World Youth Alliance Europe regrets the passage of the „Matić“ report

June 24 2021, Brussels  – World Youth Alliance Europe regrets the passage of the „Matić“ report by the European Parliament by a 378 to 255 vote majority. (“Resolution on the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women’s health (2020/2215(INI))”)

WYA Europe opposed the passage of this deeply flawed Report. It is important to note that the report is not an instrument of international law, so it doesn’t produce any binding consequences. However, the report pushes for EU Member States to ensure the right and availability of abortion, and aims to eliminate rights of conscience of health care providers. In both instances, the Matić report opposes international human rights protections enshrined in UN and EU treaties and documents.

The Matic report claims that abortion is protected by international law as part of sexual and reproductive health and rights. This is a clear misrepresentation of international law, as explained in WYA’s White Paper on the topic of Reproductive Health. While the Report explicitly invokes the ICPD Programme of Action, the ICPD document 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.” In the plenary debate, it was made clear that supporters of this report wish to use it to impose abortion on member states. It should also be noted that the European Parliament has no competences in this area.

This report also undermines 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 to freedom of conscience is a basic human right that is rooted in the human dignity and freedom of each person. This right to freedom of conscience, as described in Art. 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is protected in Art. 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights, Art 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and by the Art. 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU: “The right to conscientious objection is recognised, in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of this right.“ The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe expressly endorsed the right to conscientious objection in lawful medical care in Resolution 1763 (2010). “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.” However, the Matić report in its Explanatory statement, tramples this right with the assertion that “Moving forward it should be addressed as denial of medical care rather than the so-called conscientious objection.“

WYA Europe wants to thank its members for helping to raise awareness about the deeply problematic aspects of this report. Their efforts were successful in that we can proudly say that the Members of the European Parliament were made aware of the implications of their vote on this report. This is all the more reason to regret their decision. WYA Europe will continue to monitor the developments in the European Union, and will continue to stand for the human dignity and rights of every person, from conception until natural death.