Pro-life doctors tell MEPs to vote down ‘abortion right’ report

MEPs to vote on report calling on EU states to give women access to abortion

Hungarian MEP Predrag Matic (S&D)
Hungarian MEP Predrag Matic (S&D)

Pro-life doctors have made an open appeal to Maltese MEPs to vote against a European Parliament report by Hungarian socialist MEP Pedrag Matic that calls on EU states to give women access to abortion.

Doctors For Life said yesterday that MEPs should consider the threat to subsidiarity and conscientious objection, should the Matic report be adopted.

However, the report has no legislative power to influence national law.

The Matic report urges member states to protect and enhance women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, calling on EU countries to ensure access to a full range of high-quality, comprehensive and accessible SRHR, and to remove all barriers impeding full access to these services.

The report notes that some member states still have highly restrictive laws prohibiting abortion except in strictly defined circumstances, leading to women having to seek clandestine abortions or carry their pregnancy to term against their will, which Matic called a violation of their human rights.

Malta is the only EU member state to fully outlaw abortion. A recent Bill by independent MP Marlene Farrugia called for the decriminalisation of abortion, which carries a penalty of three years’ imprisonment for women who procure a termination.

The report in fact calls a total ban on abortion care a form of gender-based violence, and urges all member states to ensure universal access to safe and legal abortion, guarantee that abortion at request is legal in early pregnancy, and beyond if the pregnant person’s health is in danger.

But Doctors For Life (DFL) spokesperson Dr Gabriel Ellul said the report intereferes with the principle of subsidiarity, where due recognition is given to the exclusive jurisdiction of member states on management of their health systems and national health policy choices.

Ellul also said the report disregards the right to conscientious objection in lawful medical care, and attempts to introduce the recognition of a right to abortion “although no such right exists, nor can it be derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.”

“On the contrary, since the 1994 Cairo Conference, states have committed themselves to ‘reduce the recourse to abortion’ and to ‘take appropriate steps to help women avoid abortion’,” Ellul said.

“In light of this, DFL appeals to MEPs to seriously consider the legal and ethical repercussions of this report prior to casting their vote. Indeed, the report has no legal basis and seriously damages the fundamental rights enshrined in the EU Charter.”

The vote will be taken later in June.

Rapporteur Pedrag Matić said the text on which MEPs will vote calls on member states to ensure universal access to SRHR for all, and demonstrate there is strength in the EP to counter those opposing basic human rights. “Sexuality education, access to contraception and fertility treatments as well as abortion constitute some of the key components of SRHR services. This is an important step in ensuring that all EU citizens have access to SRHR and that no person is left behind in exercising their right to health.”

The report also demands that EU countries ensure universal access to a range of high-quality contraceptive methods and supplies, family counselling and information on contraception.

They also urge member states to ensure access to comprehensive sexuality education for primary and secondary school children, as SRHR education can significantly contribute to reducing sexual violence and harassment.

Regretting that access to abortion continues to be limited during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the effects the pandemic has had on the supply and access to contraceptives, the report urges EU countries to consider the health impact of this crisis through a gender lens and ensure the continuation of a full range of SRHR services through the health systems.

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