Victory for Human Dignity at European Parliament: Report on Sexual and Reproductive Rights

Tuesday, 22 October 2013, Strasbourg, France– The plenary session of the European Parliament today sent back to the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality a radical report on sexual and reproductive health and rights presented by Rapporteur Edite Estrela . The vote is thus postponed to a later date. The European People’s Party (EPP), European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) Groups gave strong opposition to the report.

The overreaching report called abortion a "human right," even though no such right is enumerated in any EU or international legally binding treaty.  If passed, it also would have overstepped national prerogatives in calling for abortion rights across the EU, as the European Commission and European Council have asserted that the EU does not have the competence to determine abortion policy.  Instead, abortion laws and policies are the prerogative of individual EU Member States. The report’s call to restrict conscientious objection as an obstacle to the "right to abortion" also would have restricted the internationally guaranteed right to freedom of conscience, as recognized in Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among other treaties.

Amendment one of the resolution, which proposed adoption of an alternative resolution to the current report, failed. However, due to the intervention of Ashley Fox, MEP from the British Conservatives (ECR), the Members of the European Parliament voted for postponing the vote on adopting the report until after it had been debated in committee. His motion for referral to committee was supported 351 votes for and 319 votes against, showing the contentiousness of this issue.

As a global coalition of young people standing for human dignity, World Youth Alliance welcomes the outcome of today’s vote. WYA staff, interns, and national chapter members contacted MEPs across the EU with voting recommendations in English, Spanish, French, Romanian, and Croatian. WYA will continue to advocate for language that respects the intrinsic dignity of the human person based on integral human development in the area of health. We will monitor the report as it is reconsidered in committee.

To learn more about the World Youth Alliance’s analysis on the legal definition of reproductive health, click here to consult our White Paper on Reproductive Health.