France: Making it an offence to knowingly provide false information about abortion

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October 7, 2016, by Safe Abortion

During the last week of September 2016, the French Minister for Families, Childhood and Women’s Rights Laurence Rossignol tabled a regulation as part of a bill on equality and citizenship in the French Senate that aimed to make it an offence for websites to convey “false allegations or give a distorted presentation of information on the nature and consequences of an abortion, in order to mislead with a deterrent purpose” (un amendement pour élargir le délit d’entrave à l’IVG à l’expression numérique. Il prévoirait d’introduire un délit contre les sites qui véhiculent «des allégations ou une présentation faussées, pour induire en erreur dans un but dissuasif sur la nature et les conséquences d’une IVG»).

The amendment was not approved, but it raises bigger questions about the ethics of what has become a widespread practice by many in the anti-abortion movement, not just on websites but also in the street when who women are entering/leaving an abortion clinic are accosted by anti-abortion hecklers and also when they visit what are sometimes called crisis pregnancy centres looking for help to have an abortion.

This week, on 6 October in the UK, the TV Channel 4 programme Dispatches sent women posing as abortion seekers to visit a clinic in order to encounter anti-abortion activists in the street outside the clinic, filmed the exchanges and later interviewed one of them. An article in the Mail on Sunday, in anticipation of the TV programme, reports that an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centre tells women that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. Others claim that abortion causes depression and failure to bond with future children, all false claims based on false evidence.

In the USA, a study by NARAL Pro-Choice America found that there were more crisis pregnancy centres than abortion clinics in the country in 2013.

A report published in 2014 by Education for Choice in the UK on this subject is based on extensive research on this behaviour.

SOURCES: Liberation + Photo Stéphane de Sakutin, AFP, 29 September 2016 + Le Figaro, 27 September 2016

+ Channel 4 Dispatches, Under Cover: Britain’s Abortion Extremists, 6 October 2016 + Mail on Sunday, by Nick Craven, 1 October 2016 + Huffington Post, 19 March 2015

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Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion