June 16 2021, Brussels – Eight years after the controversial Estrela report was rejected in the European Parliament, a similarly controversial proposal is being put to a debate and vote in the European Parliament. World Youth Alliance Europe wants to express its opposition to the “Resolution on the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women’s health (2020/2215(INI))”, the so-called the Matić Report, after the rapporteur MEP Predrag Fred Matić. The vote is due Thursday, June 24th 2021.
The report is pushing for EU Member States to ensure the right and availability of abortion, which it claims is protected by international law as part of sexual and reproductive health and rights. This is a clear misrepresentation of the law, as explained in WYA’s White Paper on the topic of Reproductive Health. While the Report explicitly invokes the ICPD Programme of Action, it goes against the content of the document, which clearly instructs Member States to “help women avoid abortion” (ICPD 7.24) and states that “in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning;” and that “every attempt should be made to eliminate the need for abortion” (ICPD 8.25), affirming that “any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process.”
This report eviscerates the well-established right to conscientious objection, qualifying it as “so-called” and equating it, in the context of a health care professional abstaining from participating in an abortive procedure, to a denial of medical care. The right not to be forced to do actions that go against one’s deeply held beliefs is a clear acknowledgment of their human dignity. The EU and European states explicitly acknowledge the right of citizens to act according to the dictates of their consciences in general, and in fact, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe expressly endorsed the right to conscientious objection in lawful medical care in Resolution 1763 (2010). “1. 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 an abortion, the performance of a human miscarriage, or euthanasia or any act which could cause the death of a human foetus or embryo, for any reason.”
For these reasons, World Youth Alliance Europe and its members call on Members of the European Parliament to reject this Resolution. As democratically elected representatives of EU citizens, they have a duty to protect and advance their fundamental rights. Human dignity, which is the basis for all rights, belongs to every human person, from conception until natural death, and should always be upheld.