Pro-Life Counseling Becomes Illegal in France

rally-against-france-pro-abortion-law in Paris Jan 19 (Reuters)

France, the land of the French Revolution, of liberty, fraternity, and equality, is displaying few of these qualities these days. Not that the French revolutionaries ever did in their time. They guillotined those who belonged to the wrong class, the wrong (i.e. losing) political party, those adhering to Church and King and ultimately each other. It is no consolation, however, that the revolution ended eating its own children. These days France is guillotining free speech. It is forbidding anybody from trying to convince women not to abort their unborn child. No information may be tendered on the internet or in counseling regarding potential negative consequences of abortion. The latter are considered lies and if caught spreading them, one faces 2 years in prison and up to $37,000 (€30,000) in fines.

Jean Frédéric Poisson, the deputy for the department of the Yvelines, president of the small Christian-Democrat party, and a presidential candidate who unfortunately only got 2 percent in the primaries last November—though he is the most consistent, most pro-life and most Catholic candidate out there—spoke out against this new law which passed from the national assembly to the French Senate and back. As he pointed out, if there is freedom of thought, there must also be freedom of speech. If one proceeded to shut down every site with false information, the French socialist website should have been closed long ago. The right answer would have been to explain how these claims are false (which they are not), start a public debate, rather than dogmatically ban everybody who doesn’t follow the party line.

The politically correct opinion these days is that abortion is not only an innocuous intervention, but also a woman’s right to the point that she may not hear any reasons against it (for those reasons are by definition mendacious). False information spread by the pro-abort side, on the other hand, is free from any criminal penalty. Hence, the woman may not be given any alternatives to abortion, which might persuade her to change her mind. Ironically, these lawmakers believe that women are not autonomous enough to make their own choices if presented with contrary information. One may well wonder who respects women’s “rights” more, the pro-abortion or the pro-life side?

All those women who have had abortions, suffer from it, and want to prevent others from making the same mistake are now silenced. They are victims themselves, though unacknowledged ones. Their trauma and abuse is made ten times worse by not allowing them to express the truth about their pain publicly and in doing so illuminate the whole issue.

Psychologists like Dr. Teresa Burke, who founded Rachel’s Vineyard in the US many years ago, realized during her training-period that many of her patients sharing the same post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms had procured an abortion. Her thesis-director did not allow her to pursue this line of research, since the ideological pro-choice creed forbade anyone question the rightness of legal abortion. Yet she was one of the first, next to Dr. Philip Ney, to develop psychological treatments for those suffering from the consequences of abortion. Her approach has been adopted by the French pro-life group, Mère de Misericorde.

One organization particularly in the news these days has a rather neutral-sounding name. IVG.net stands for interruption volontaire de grossesse, or “voluntary interruption of pregnancy.” It is the official euphemism for abortion in France. This group has provoked the ire of the government and is probably the reason for the new gag law. IVG.net offers women counseling online and via a free phone-line, and material help if needed. It also reaches out to those wanting to unburden their hearts after an abortion. Their site records the testimonies of women warning others against making such a life-shattering choice. Founded in 2009 by the association SOS détresse, it attracts 38,000 visitors to its website, receives 500 calls and 200 emails per month. Their focus is on the women, wanting to help them, rather than “simply” wanting to save the baby. Often the one leads to the other. They run the phone-line with the help of 25 volunteers, thus spending only €45,000 on administration, phone-line, website, publicity etc. €35,000 is raised from donations per year to help women materially so they can keep their baby. They maintain homes for these mothers all over France. They are amazingly effective and efficient. Paraphrasing Churchill, one could say that never has so much good been done with so little by so few.

As their founder, Marie Philippe, recently explained before the French Senate, showing true concern for women, offering alternatives, but also pointing out the potential psychological consequences of abortion (which one would have to do regarding any other surgery, medical procedure or medication for fear of lawsuits at the very least) often empowers the women to follow their heart and keep their baby. They develop great strength and courage not to cave in to pressure from their partner, family or general culture. IVG.net estimates they have saved about 1,000 babies per year, though only God knows the real numbers, for not all women come back to tell their tale. But these 1,000 babies are too much for the Moloch that wants its share of human flesh. Probably not too far in the future people will universally be aghast at what we have done. Books will be written, studies will be made in order to understand how we got to the point of killing our children in the name of compassion and of women’s rights, leaving a trail of broken women and families behind. It will seem as incomprehensible to us as the ideologies of the totalitarian regimes in the twentieth century without the excuse of being trapped under a dictatorship (though we are fast losing our liberties).

All is not lost in the current battle. Enough parliamentarians and senators were against the law to send it for an official Constitutional review. The ruling is expected within the next two weeks and could invalidate or modify the legislation. What happens if the law is reaffirmed remains to be seen. Will pro-lifers risk prison as they have in other countries, will they work from outside the country? I do not know. But one thing is sure: one day the work of IVG.net and others like it will be seen as important parts of a civil rights battle and a resistance movement against the empire of death, the silver-lining in these dark times, the vital justification our culture can point to when our age will stand in judgment.

Editor’s note: Pictured above are pro-life demonstrators protesting the new pro-abortion law in Paris on January 19, 2017. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Marie Meaney

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Marie Meaney received her doctorate and an M. Phil. in Modern Languages from the University of Oxford. She is the author of Simone Weil’s Apologetic Use of Literature: Her Christological Interpretations of Classic Greek Texts (Oxford University Press, 2007). Her booklet Embracing the Cross of Infertility (HLI) has also appeared in Spanish, German, Hungarian and Croatian. Before the birth of her daughter, she was a teaching fellow at Villanova University.

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