By Marie Smith
Editor’s note. This analysis comes from the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI)
The European Parliament, composed of legislators representing the 28 Member States of the European Union, voted today to adopt the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy Around the World 2013, including paragraphs promoting access to abortion as a fundamental right but which also recognize sex selection abortion as violence against women and girls.
The “Panzeri Report”–named for Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D group)–was adopted during the plenary session in Strasbourg by a vote of 390 to 151 with 97 abstentions.
The vote follows adoption on Tuesday of another non-binding report, the “Tarabella report.” That report presents access to abortion as a fundamental right and as part of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). But it also affirms the right of EU [European Union] Member States to determine national policy on SRHR issues.
The “Panzeri Report,” however, makes no mention of the long standing principle of subsidiarity whereby countries in the EU determine their own laws on abortion. Instead it expresses opposition to sovereign laws that protect women and children from the violence of abortion:
“136. Finds it regrettable that women’s and girls’ bodies, specifically with respect to their sexual and reproductive health and rights, still remain an ideological battleground, and calls for the EU and its Member States to recognise the inalienable rights of women and girls to bodily integrity and autonomous decision-making as regards, inter alia, the right to access voluntary family planning and safe and legal abortion and to be free from violence, including female genital mutilation, child, early and forced marriage, and marital rape;”
The inclusion of an action—abortion—that denies children their most basic right—the right to life—mars a human rights report that contains many important sections on pressing human rights violations.
Most significantly, the report recognizes sex selection abortion as violence against women and girls stating in paragraph 142 of the section Rights of women and girls:
“Calls on the Council to include the issue of ‘gender-selected’ abortion in the EU Guidelines concerning violence against women and girls; encourages the Commission and the Council to develop data-gathering methods and indicators on this phenomenon, and encourages the EEAS to include this issue in the development and implementation of the human rights country strategies;”
The inclusion of sex selection abortion in human rights strategies is a positive step toward reducing the number of baby girls who are identified as “little women” in the womb and lose their lives as a result. Indeed, the denial of the right to life to pre-born girls is a human rights violation, as is the denial of the right to life to any pre-born child for any reason.
PNCI wonders how the “Panzeri Report” can get it so right and recognize the violence of abortion based on prenatal sex determination but can get it so wrong in calling for access in EU Member States to this same violence for any reason, or no reason, in the name of women’s and girls’ “autonomous decision-making.”