France’s Conseil d’Etat has recently reconfirmed a 2014 decision of the French audiovisual regulating body to ban broadcasting of a video. The film is part of a social awareness campaign about the full humanity and dignity of persons living with Down Syndrome.
Laurence Marion, expert at Conseil d’Etat, has said, according to RCF Radio, that the films are not of “general interest”, explaining:
In France, the law is neutral. It protects the persons with trisomy but it also authorizes pregnancy termination. (…) This video presents to future mothers only one choice and that is why it tries to influence their choice.
Over 90% of babies diagnosed in utero with Down Syndrome are usually aborted. Therefore, Mrs Laurence Marion actually says that a harmless little film showing that these kids are so happy with their lives could gravely harm women who have not chosen life for their children diagnosed in utero with trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome). She also says something else: if this film can make some future mothers in the same situation give birth to their children, then it would mean they have been constrained, by some sort of emotional blackmail, to do something they did not actually want.
The current French government is in the process of banning websites offering women in pregnancy crisis information about other options than abortion, claiming that these media channels restrain freedom of choice for women and their „right” to abortion.
What are the implication of these evolutions? That from now on France will establish a “TV censorship committee” to make sure that films and news do not contain something that might offend the conscience and feelings of women who have had a pregnancy termination?
Shall we give up freedom of expression on trisomy to accommodate other persons’ conscience? What next? Banning differing opinions on other topics which might create imaginary “obstruction” of other expressions of “freedom”?
Perhaps we should forbid these children to go out in public? What if – God forbids! – one of them is seen in the street by a woman who has just had an abortion on reasons that the baby was diagnosed with Down Syndrome?
Abortion is always a trauma for the woman and she cannot be condemned for the choices she makes. But the actual message sent by this ban to broadcast a social awareness video on TV is that the existence itself of these children represents an aggression and an attempt to destroy the way in which some persons chose to exercise their freedom.
The next logical step would be to also find other social categories whose members could harm “general interest” and to restrict their right to free speech and then maybe even their right to exist (in public). Why not? We only need to identify the “general interest” for that…