EP fights again about “right to abortion”


European Union


Pro-choice demonstration in Brussels. Photo EPA, Olivier Hoslet

On Wednesday, abortion again turned out to be a source of contention for the European Parliament. The right to abortion was on the agenda, because of developments in the US Supreme Court. MPs with a pro-life viewpoint clashed with those who defended the pro-choice side.

French government minister Isabelle Rome – responsible for equality between men and women in France – reminded the attendees of President Macron's proposal to enshrine the right to abortion in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, Die Tagespost reports. Rome argued that the EU needs "progress in women's rights."

The minister acknowledged that the EU has no right to determine its members' national regulation of abortion. However, she insisted that "denying women's rights is a gender-based form of violence." In her opinion, the "fundamental rights of women to make free and responsible decisions about their sexuality" – which the EU recognises – include "sexual and reproductive rights."

The Swedish liberal conservative Arba Kokolari supported the French minister’s pro-choice view. She finds it "absurd that in 2022 we still have to debate the obvious right of women to decide about their bodies."

Bavarian SPD deputy Maria Noichl even called the refusal of contraceptives or information about abortion "a form of violence", Die Tagespost writes. She said: "A refused abortion is a forced pregnancy."

"Both sides radicalise themselves"

Nevertheless, the opponents of the "right to abortion" did not remain silent. Margarita de la Pisa Carrion, from the conservative Spanish party VOX, argued that "having an abortion is terrible." She called the MPs to listen to women who experienced abortions. "They feel a terrible emptiness."

Jadwiga Wisniewska from the Polish ruling party PiS pointed out that every human being has a right to life. Therefore, he believes abortion is "not a fundamental right and not subject to international law."

Former MP Jörg Meuthen from the German party AfD did not want to take a stance. He argued that the issue of the right to abortion is ideologically charged because "both sides radicalise." According to Meuthen, abortion is not a contraceptive and should not be normalised. Yet, he also argues that criminalising abortion is not the solution. Instead, he pleaded for help for women with unwanted pregnancies.

"Enshrining the right to abortion violates EU jurisdiction"

In reaction to the heated debate on abortion in the European Parliament, the Catholic Church in the European Union (COMECE) released a statement. The bishops argue that the European Union does not have the right to interfere in the national legislation on abortion of its member states. "No state can be obliged to legalise abortion, facilitate it, or be instrumental to perform it."

Furthermore, the bishops point out in their statement that the Standing Committee of COMECE earlier already expressed that enshrining the right to abortion in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union would be a law "devoid of any ethical foundation and destined to be a cause of perpetual conflict among the citizens of the EU." In addition, the bishops are concerned about the right to conscientious objection, which is also under discussion. They remind the MPs of the resolution of the Council of Europe, which states that no one should be discriminated against because of a "refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion (…) or any act that could cause the death of a human foetus or embryo, for any reason."



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