For the second time in two months, the European Parliament rejected a report that recommended that EU nations declare abortion to be a human right and to make abortion available within all public health systems of member countries. Adoption of the report would have placed more pressure on pro-life nations like Ireland, Poland and Malta to legalize abortion on demand.
The proposal was rejected in Strasbourg today and instead an alternative report proposed by the European People’s Party was adopted by 334 to 327 votes.
Responding to the result, Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said:
“Today is International human rights day. It is fitting that a report which sought to attack the most basic human right – the right to life – was rejected. The Estrela report sought to turn on its head the right to life, ignored the mounting evidence that abortion hurts many women and undermined the concept of conscientious objection for medical practitioners.”
She told LifeNews: “The scrapping of the report shows that grassroots efforts of pro-life people advocating for authentic human rights have an impact. Irish people joined many others right across Europe in contacting their MEP’s asking them to reject this report. The result is evidence that making our voices heard on behalf of those who have no voice can make a real difference.”
“The report states that 20 member nations permit abortion on demand (generally with a gestational limit). Of the seven remaining nations, three have very liberal restrictions regarding abortion while three nations will perform abortions only under more limited circumstances,” says pro-life analyst Nora Sullivan. “The measure the European Parliament is now considering contains no limits regarding gestational age – leaving open the possibility of elective-abortion-until-day-of-birth as a human right. Doubly disturbing are the severe infringement on conscience protections of physicians (specifically gynecologists and anesthesiologists) that are proposed.”
“This measure claims to be a human rights issue yet it fundamentally ignores the human rights of the three key people involved in this tragic act. It ignores the most basic right, the right to life, of the baby at the center of the whole issue. It ignores women’s real needs by hiding them behind the iron curtain of abortion rhetoric. And it ignores the conscience of the doctor, who is being asked to end a human life after spending years training how to preserve it,” Sullivan said. “The European Union should not be asking physicians to suppress their consciences; it should be trying to find its own.”
The previous vote had 351 MEPs voting to send the pro-abortion bill back to committee while 319 voted against the move to zap the legislation. The committee eventually voted the measure back out of committee — leading to today’s vote.
John Smeaton of the British pro-life group SPUC applauded the vote.
“The Estrela report represents one of the most concerted recent attempts to get the European Parliament to exceed its competence and try to impose abortion on European Union member-states,” he told LifeNews. “Today’s rejection of the Estrela report proves that peaceful and prayerful grassroots lobbying by pro-lifers can have a real positive impact in the political arena. I wish to thank SPUC’s supporters at home and our colleagues in Europe for saving lives today.”
“The “Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights”, put forward by Edite Estrela MEP, suggested that abortion is a human right, called for compulsory sex education for all children in and outside of school, and attacked conscientious objection for healthcare professionals,” Smeaton continued.
The report asserts that currently, in countries where abortion is legal, it is often rendered unavailable due to physicians’ “abuse of conscientious objection or overly restrictive interpretations of existing limits.”
The proposed legislation seeks to require member nations to “regulate and monitor the use of conscientious objection so as to ensure that reproductive health care is guaranteed as an individual’s right, while access to lawful services is ensured and appropriate and affordable referrals systems are in place.”
The report goes on to state, “There are cases reported from Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Ireland and Italy where nearly 70 per cent of all gynecologists and 40 per cent of all anesthesiologists conscientiously object to providing abortion services.”
Anna Zaborska, a pro-life Slovak Member of the European Parliament and former Chairwoman of the Committee of Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, has stated that the report cannot be used to establish a “right to abortion.”
“No person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to practices which could cause the death of a human embryo,” Ms. Zaborska said.