By Marie Smith
The European Parliament (EP) today passed a resolution adopting the “Tarabella Report.” The report promotes access to abortion as a fundamental right and as part of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) but also affirmed the right of EU Member States to determine national policy on SRHR issues. The EP has followed a long-standing principle of subsidiarity that on the issue of abortion, the EP does not have “competence,” deferring to individual governments to determine policy.
The “Tarabella Report,” the annual European Parliament report on the equality between women and men in the European Union is named for Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella. It went beyond reporting on equality in the EU and became a radical tool, stating that SRHR includes access to abortion, and advancing support for measures to provide “ready access” to abortion.
Paragraph 45 of the “Tarabella Report” includes:
“Maintains that women must have control over their sexual and reproductive health and rights, not least by having ready access to contraception and abortion; supports, accordingly, measures and actions to improve women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services and inform them more fully about their rights and the services available;”
The resolution on the report was adopted during the EP session in Strasbourg by a vote of 441 to 205 with 52 abstaining. The measure was supported by the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D group) while the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), the largest political group in the EP, split its vote.
The report has been described as “contradictory”. According to the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe:
“…the text is contradictory as it also considers abortion in a fundamental rights perspective, a point of view already expressed by the Socialists and Democrats group of which Mr. Tarabella is a member. This political group aims at integrating “the right to abortion” into the Fundamental Rights Charter of the European Union. An aim which is utterly contradictory as the first article of the Charter states that “Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected” and the second article that “Everyone has the right to life”.
CARE for Europe had worked to amend the report and commented:
“This annual report is supposed to report on the state of equal pay, equal rights and specific rights violations which need the EU to intervene in promoting women’s interests. But among the hopeful and helpful considerations about sexualisation of women, exploitation through trafficking and female genital mutilation, came the familiar Trojan agenda of seeking to push sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as a fundamental right.”
“On cases where subsidiarity arguments could be applied (it is a competence of the member state not the EU)… it was affirmed that SRHR is not a matter for the EU, but for each national government.”
On Thursday, March 12, the European Parliament will consider another pro-abortion report, the “Panzeri Report,” the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2013 and the European Union’s Policy on the matter. This second report also presents abortion as an integral part of sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls stating:
“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…”
The “Panzeri Report” urges that the European Union during negotiations for the post-2015 agenda at the United Nations, follow a human rights based approach to development that includes abortion as a human right– an assertion that no international treaty supports. It
“Calls on the EU to redouble its efforts to ensure in the upcoming intergovernmental negotiations that the human rights-based approach (HRBA) and the reduction of inequalities become underpinning concepts of post-2015 global development and are also included in concrete fashion in the goals and targets themselves; stresses the need to ensure that the post-2015 agenda includes, inter alia, women’s rights, children’s rights, good governance, democracy and the rule of law, freedom of association and expression, universal health coverage, and sexual and reproductive health and rights, as being key elements for development;”
In the area of developmental aid, the report calls
“for the EU to continue to protect sexual and reproductive health and related rights and highlights the need to place these policies at the core of development cooperation with third countries, and in the future action plan on gender equality and women’s empowerment in development for the 2015-2020 period in particular, including by means of political dialogue and specific actions involving local civil society.”
The Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe has a petition against both reports for EU citizens to sign. Support can be expressed until the vote on Thursday; CitizenGo has posted the petition: EU Parliament to vote on the “right to abortion.”
Pro-life advocates are posting messages at #StopEU4abortion.
Editor’s note. This appeared today at the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues.