French Senate approves pro-life website ban
8 December 2016
This bill seeks to prevent women accessing information on alternatives to abortion online. Image: Shutterstock
A bill to criminalise any website that seeks to "exert psychological or moral pressure" on a woman seeking information about abortion has passed through the French Senate.
The legislation was approved by the National Assembly (France's lower house) last week. The Senate and National Assembly will now decide which version of the bill - the original or a slightly amended version - to pass to President Hollande.
The bill passed will extend to the internet a 1993 law criminalising "interference" in abortions in the form of "false information".
Bruno Retailleau, a close ally of François Fillon, the Républicains party candidate tipped to win the presidential election in five months time, has blasted the bill as "totally against freedom of expression".
He added that the bill went against the "spirit" of the 1975 law that legalised abortion, which called for women to be informed of alternatives.
It's not just students
John Deighan, CEO of SPUC Scotland commented: "News like this shows there is a lesson from what we've seen recently at Strathclyde University - the debate on abortion being completely shut down by students' unions officials. We may shrug our shoulders at petty dictators like this in universities, but when these students grow up and become ministers, then incredible abuses of freedom of expression like this occur."
"This should be a warning to the UK about the campaign to impose 'buffer zones' around abortion clinics," Mr Deighan continued. "As we can see from France, it doesn't end there. Now even the internet is being policed to make sure there is no dissent from the pro-abortion agenda."
Fertility watchdog "refuses to extend embryo time limit"
A meeting took place yesterday in which scientists argued that the limit on experimenting on embryos should be extended from 14 days to 28.
However, the Times has reported that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has dismissed this call. The chairwoman, Sally Cheshire, is said to have hinted that there's no rush to change the law, as most research on embryos in Britain had stopped after five days.
“We need to be careful that we don't run before we can walk," she said. "We're still learning to walk."
Mary Warnock, who originally formulated the 14 day limit, also opposed its extension, on "political grounds".
The issue was discussed at a meeting of the Progress Educational Trust yesterday. Nearly all the participants spoke in favour of embryo research, but David Jones, a visiting professor of bioethics at St Mary's University Twickenham, called destroying an embryo after research an act of "homicide".
CEO of 40 Days for Life moves on
David Bereit, one of the founders and the CEO of 40 Days for Life, announced yesterday that he is leaving the organisation to begin a new venture.
40 Days for Life was founded in 2004, and is estimated to have saved the lives of 12,668 babies.
John Smeaton, SPUC's Chief Executive, paid tribute to Mr Bereit, saying "David Bereit is a hugely significant figure all over the world in developing pro-life witness and saving babies. We thank him for everything he has done with 40 Days for Life, and wish him every success in his new venture."