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by Erin Weist

Troubling news regarding abortion has come out of France in recent weeks.  Last Wednesday the Senate voted in favor of a bill that allows for prosecution of those attempting to influence anyone seeking an abortion.  Under this law, it appears that pro-life websites, for all intents and purposes, are now banned.  The bill includes acts of threat or intimidation, which are obviously unethical under any circumstance.  But it also includes moral and psychological pressures, which are more obscure in definition and therefore open to broader interpretation.  Moral pressure would appear to apply to any religion that attempts to sway abortion-seekers on the basis of theology.  And psychological pressure could easily be interpreted to mean any pro-life website explaining the brutal nature of abortion, thereby attempting persuasion through psychological means.  An initial analysis would deem this law as highly threatening and erodes  both freedom of speech and freedom of religion principles.  If Draconian laws such as these continue to pass, French people attempting to live their religion or be vocal about their beliefs could find their rights irretrievably lost.

Another disturbing ruling to come out of France is over a video about kids with Down Syndrome.  The video was produced 2 years ago, with the intent to relieve concerns of pregnant women that have unborn children diagnosed with the disorder.  The video shows smiling, happy adolescents with Down Syndrome, reassuring these prospective mothers of all the things they can do.  Despite the message of inclusivity and acceptance, the CSA (the authority charged with enforcing French law in the media) forced screenings of the video to cease and ignored appeals from legal groups.  This enforcement came about simply because the nature of these happy kids “troubled” some French viewers who chose to abort their Down Syndrome children.  

Last month an Administrative Court upheld the decision to remove this video from the airwaves because it was “likely to disturb [the conscience] of women, [who]  in compliance with the law, had made a different personal life choice.”  In short, because abortion is legal in France, and some women choose to abort their Down Syndrome babies, the messages in this video might disturb them.  Now, as an outsider looking into this story, I would say the video did exactly what it set out to do: afflict the comfortable, show them a different way.  I would also say this ruling is a further example of the erosion of rights of speech as well as of religion.  Because abortion is legal in France it appears that any opinion that voices otherwise will be deemed illegal.

Events such as these, whether in your own country or across the world, are becoming far too familiar.  I would appeal to you to align yourself with like-minded groups in your country. Those that are staying informed of these type of rulings and laws will notify you when action is needed.  Please call or write any officials in your area when matters affecting society come up and let them know that the erosion of rights is a dangerous path that you will not accept.

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