European Christian Democrats divided about abortion ruling USA

02-07-2022

European Union

Joe-Lize Brugge, CNE.news

Pro-life supporters clash with pro-choice demonstrators. Photo EPA, Jeremy Piper

The abortion debate has flared up in the United States and on the European continent after the Supreme Court's decision to abolish the federal right to abortion. What is the opinion of Christian Democratic politicians on this issue?

The abortion debate has flared up in the States and on the European continent after the Supreme Court's decision to abolish the federal right to abortion. What is the opinion of Christian Democratic politicians on this issue?

Christian Democracy

Christian Democracy is a political family that originally based its principles on Christian norms and values. It is often seen as centre-right on the political spectrum and presents itself as a people's party.

The Christian Democrats are not based in one specific country. Instead, several European countries have a Christian Democratic Party, for example, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden. Within the European Union, the Christian Democrats have united themselves mainly in the EPP, the European People's Party.

Apart from the Christian Democratic party family there is a movement of smaller Christian parties. In Europe, some of these are united in the European Political Christian Movement (ECPM). This party published a response to the US decision, in which the ECPM calls itself “unapologetically pro-life".

"The right to life is a human right for both the child and the mother. There is no right to kill. Abortion is no solution", Finnish politician Paivi Räsänen tweeted in reaction to the decision of the American Supreme Court. In another tweet, she argues that abortion ends a human life and is part of the culture of death. Thereby, she takes a pro-life stance.

"Today is a reminder that the struggle for women's rights is never over". That was the reaction of Wopke Hoekstra, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs after he learned about the ruling of the Supreme Court. "The Netherlands stands firmly for the health and rights of all women and girls, to be able to decide about their bodies and lives."

Both politicians call themselves Christian Democrats. Yet, they take opposite stances in the abortion debate. The opposition shows the division of views within the European-wide political movement that has roots in the Christian worldview. Thus, it is not self-evident for parties from this movement to be pro-life.


Finland

Paivi Räsänen, the leader of the Christian Democratic Party in Finland, is known for her conservative view on social issues. On Twitter, she called the decision of the Supreme Court "good news for the defenders of children's rights". She expressed her hope that other rights can be changed globally as well to protect children's lives.

Other Christian Democratic MPs do not seem to contradict the view of Räsänen publicly.


Netherlands

Even though the foreman of the Dutch Christian Democrats (CDA), Wopke Hoekstra, criticised the decision of the Supreme Court, not all members of his party agreed. That is reported by the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad. One of Hoekstra's fellow Christian Democrats responded: "Dear minister Hoekstra, fellow party member, what about the universal human rights? Especially those of unborn children? Do they also have a right to their own body and life? Seems to be a considerable question."

Other Christian Democratic members point out that minister Hoekstra contradicts himself by pleading for the right to self-determination for women and the restrictions for unvaccinated people, which Hoekstra supported.


Denmark

Within the Danish Christian Democratic party (KD), there have been disagreements concerning the issue of abortion. Recently, Jens Rohde, the only Christian Democratic MP in Denmark, resigned after a heated internal debate on abortion, CNE.news reports.

Rhode has a very liberal view of abortion and sees it as a women's right. Earlier, he stated that he stands firm on "the woman's right to abortion. To me, that is inviolable. Then others must explain why they have a different point of view."

The Danish Christian Democratic party was established as a protest against the legalisation of abortion. Therefore, the abortion issue touches the heart of the party.

On its website, the party states that it will not abolish abortion. Instead, it wants to offer counselling to women considering abortion, thereby showing these expecting women alternatives.


Sweden

The Christian Democratic Party in Sweden condemns the decision of the US Supreme Court. The party launched an "abortion contract" to ensure that the liberal abortion laws in Sweden would remain in place. That was reported earlier by CNE.news..

"As signers of the contract, we stand behind Sweden's abortion legislation and promise to defend it, should it come under attack from forces within our country or the European Union", Christian Democratic leader Ebba Busch said at the conference. She signed the petition on behalf of her party.

The day after the Supreme Court of America published its abortion ruling, the Swedish politician wrote on Facebook: "Yearly, 25 million unsafe abortions are carried out worldwide – uncountable. That leads to catastrophic consequences, death or severe injuries. Therefore, it is important to stand up for the right to safe abortions."

The Christian Democratic Party in Sweden (KD) used to have conservative abortion views but switched to a pro-choice stance in the 1980s.


Belgium

Sammy Mahdi, the leader of the Belgian Christian Democratic Party CD&V, sees abortion as a women's right and is worried about the developments in the USA after the ruling of the Supreme Court. He thinks that countries should implement measures to protect women's rights, like the right to abortion. That is what he says to VRT. "I am worried about the events in the United States. Some of the achievements are not definitive. In that sense, you have to keep fighting for several rights concerning women who choose an abortion."

Earlier, Madhi, then Secretary of State, spoke out his strong opposition to abortion. In 2020, he said that if the Belgian coalition wanted to liberalise the abortion legislation, his party would not join. Now, Mahdi seems to have made a U-turn. He confirms that the CD&V will remain in its opinion that abortion is a woman's right.

The previous leader of the CD&V, Joachim Koens has always taken a pro-life stance. In 2020, CD&V opposed a bill that aimed at liberalising the abortion law, under his leadership. That is reported by Cultuurgeschiedenis. However, Koens recently resigned because his party was not doing well in the polls.

The chairman of the youth group of the CD&V, Kevin Maas, writes in an opinion article that abortion should never be normalised and equalised to a medical interference. "It is about a beginning life." Yet, he is in favour of abortion after sexual abuse. According to Maas, the problem with the upheaval of abortion in the United States is that it does not lead to a fruitful debate. The reason is that both proponents and opponents of abortion do not take each other seriously.


Luxembourg

The decision of the US Supreme Court has sparked outrage in Luxembourg. The Prime Minister called everyone to stand up for women's rights, including abortion and the associations Family Planning Luxembourg and JIF Luxembourg called for the enshrinement of abortion in the Constitution. In addition, they want to extend the period in which abortion is allowed from 12 to 14 weeks and remove the mandatory consideration period of three days.

Christian Democrat deputy Martine Hansen calls people to calm down. That is reported by Luxtimes. She argues that lawmakers should wait with debating about the issue until current proposals for constitutional change are completed. At the moment, the Luxembourg Parliament has voted in favour of protecting abortion rights by law. "Now is not the time to open this Pandora's box", Hansen said. However, she did not explicitly express support for or rejection of the ruling of the US Supreme Court.


Germany

The leader of the CDU, the Christian Democratic party in Germany, Friedrich Merz, implicitly rejects the decision of the American Supreme Court. He says to the German news agency Zeit that the "incipient culture war" that he notices in the United States, should be "a cautionary tale for us not to start again." He pointed out that the German government has established social peace by regulating abortion in the criminal code. "It should stay that way."

Currently, abortion is illegal in Germany, but it goes unpunished within the twelve weeks of pregnancy. Furthermore, abortion is allowed for medical reasons or when the pregnancy results from sexual abuse.


Austria

The Austrian Christian Democrats (ÖVP) seem to be divided in their judgement on the ruling of the Supreme Court of America. While Christian Democrat Gundrun Kugler is known for her pro-life stance – she participated in a March for Life – the ÖVP Minister, Susanne Raab, and ÖVP Secretary of State for Youth, Claudia Plakolm, clearly reject the ruling.

Raab, the Austrian Women's Minister, writes in a statement that the American Supreme Court has made a decision at the expense of women's rights in the USA. That is reported by Der Standard. She argues that questions about abortion belong "in a democracy in the hands of the citizens and the parliaments", thereby implicitly stating that Courts should not rule about the issue. Raab says women should not be forced into illegal and life-threatening abortions. "That should clearly be rejected."

Claudia Plakolm agrees with Raab. She says that "the verdict is a frightening step backwards into the age of angel makers."


Spain

The Spanish MP of the Christian Democratic Party in the European Parliament, Isabel Benjumea, spoke out against the upheaval concerning the abortion ruling of the Supreme Court of America. She did so during a debate before the decision of the Supreme Court to abolish the right to abortion. Benjumea pointed out that it is a "great shame" that the European Parliament puts pressure on a court of a democracy "on a decision made by those magistrates." according to her, the European Parliament does not have the "ability or our competence to assess a decision of a court of a democracy" regardless of personal views on abortion.

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Photo AFP, Thomas Samson

Benjumea herself supports the pro-life movement. Recently, she expressed her support on Twitter for an anti-abortion march. "Always, always favour life", she wrote.

National politicians of the Spanish Christian Democrats seem to have remained silent about the decision of the Supreme Court of America.


Greece

The Christian Democratic President of Greece strongly opposes the decision of the Supreme Court. Katerina Sakellaropoulou, belonging to the Christian Democratic party New Democracy, wrote in a Facebook post that the ruling leads to crooked rights, but also has negative consequences especially for vulnerable women. “Women who do not have the luck or the money to exercise their right in progressive states will have to turn to the dark world of illegal clinics and controversial pills. That leads to the humiliation of human dignity.”

Despite the strong words of the President, not all Christian Democrats share her opinion on the issue of abortion. Last year, one of the MPs of the New Democracy supported an anti-abortion motion at the European Parliament, Keep Talking Greece reports.


What is the general stance of the Christian Democratic Party?

Looking at the different reactions from the European Christian Democrats, it is clear that there is no unifying Christian Democratic stance on abortion. The issue of terminating pregnancies even causes internal friction between party members. From the countries CNE.news looked at, it turns out that about half of the Christian Democratic parties support the Supreme Court of America ruling. The other half sees abortion as a settled women's right that should be protected.

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