By Dave Andrusko
By an uncomfortably close margin, the European Parliament today rejected a draft report that would have promoted abortion as a fundamental “human right.” The vote to send it back to committee was 351 to 319 votes with 18 abstentions.
The Draft Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights had been adopted September 18 by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament are the driving force behind the measure (dubbed by opponents “Estrela-Report” named after its author, Edite Estrela from Portugal), which sought not only to elevate abortion to the status of a “human right” but also stifle those who object to participating in abortion because of conscience.
Commentator J.C. von Krempach, J.D. observed
“Quite clearly, the strategy was to rush through the draft resolution without any serious-minded debate on the merits, so as to avoid that MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] could actually understand what they would be raising their hands for. But this strategy has failed on the corridors of the EP, where pro-life activists assiduously informed undecided MEPs of the true content hidden behind Mrs. Estrela’s sanctimonious human-rights-prose.”
Proponents acknowledged that the “right” to abortion is very widespread in the 27-member European Parliament. But as Patrick Goodenough explained yesterday, they countered that even in countries where abortion is legal, “it is often made unavailable ‘through the abuse of conscientious objection or overly restrictive interpretations of existing limits.’ Other obstacles include ‘medically unnecessary waiting periods or biased counseling.’”
Hilary White noted that other European bodies have no difficulties with current protections for individual consciences and that doctors are already rebelling against participating in abortion:
“The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe… adopted Resolution 1763, which asked member states to ‘guarantee the right to conscientious objection in relation to participation in the medical procedure in question.’ The Assembly also stated that ‘in the vast majority of Council of Europe member states, the practice of conscientious objection is adequately regulated”.
“Italian government statistics recently showed that the number of doctors and other health care practitioners who refuse to participate in abortion is steadily increasing. This includes more than 80 percent of all gynecologists – up to 91 percent in some areas – as well as more than half of anesthesiologists and nurses.
“In 2007, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists complained that ‘unprecedented numbers,’ of doctors are opting out of abortion, 80 percent of which are paid for in Britain by the National Health Service.”
Ironically, the draft report uses those same findings to make its case to squelch conscience rights. It notes that doctors are increasingly refusing to participate in Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, “where nearly 70 per cent of all gynecologists and 40 per cent of all anesthesiologists conscientiously object to providing abortion services.”