Engerer to vote in favour of Matic report on ensuring access to abortion services

‘The report is based on science. It is useless to argue that we believe in science to get the vaccine, but then do not rely on it for other issues’

Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer
Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer

Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer has given advance notice that he will vote in favour of the so-called Matic report, a resolution dealing with sexual health and reproductive rights.

Engerer will break ranks with the Maltese mainstream of voting against all type of reports in the European Parliamet that consider any mention of reproductive rights, taboo.

“It is regrettable that in Malta the discussion on the report prepared by the Socialists on sexual health and reproductive rights, focus on just one aspect: abortion. The report is based on science. It is useless to argue that we believe in science to get the vaccine, but then do not rely on it for other issues,” the MEP said.

“The main principle in the report is the importance of science and fact-based sexual education. It stresses on access to contraception for all, fertility treatments (IVF) for all, medical access for trans persons and rights for intersex persons, among others,” Engerer said.

The anti-choice group Doctors For Life has petitioned MEPs not to support the Matic report, which is non-binding. Malta is the only EU country to outrightly ban abortion and prescribe a three-year prison sentence for women whose pregnancy is terminated.

“During these days I received a number of messages from many Maltese – some, a greater number that I expected, ask edme to vote in favour with a few of them even sharing their personal experiences with me and others ask me to vote against. Even for those who are against abortion, taking into account every issue contained in the report, the balance is strongly in its favour.”

Engerer said MEPs had repeatedly voted in favour of LGBTIQ rights, which like abortion is a matter of sovereign competence. “These are the thoughts I have considered on my decison to vote. I always fight for civil liberties, equality and accessibility and affordability of healthcare for all – and I will continue to do so.”

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.

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.

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.

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