By Parliamentary Network for Critical issues
A majority of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) adopted a resolution in the context of human rights that not only condemns and calls for the overturning of Texas Senate Bill 8, which prohibits abortion after detection of the unborn child’s heartbeat, but calls for the entire US to eliminate all laws against abortion by enactment of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) and by establishing “federal legal protection for universal access to abortion”.
The non-binding pro-abortion resolution was introduced by The Left political group and passed by a vote of 381 in favor, 253 against and 36 abstentions. It reads as if written by pro-abortion activists, It even calls for the European Union (EU) and its Member States to provide EU support and funding for US-based civil society groups “protecting and promoting SRHR in the country, as an expression of its universal commitment to these rights.” It seeks to provide ‘safe haven’ for medical professionals who violate Texan law and face legal action.
President Biden’s pro-abortion support and opposition to the Texas law is highlighted: “…whereas President Biden has declared that the bill represents an ‘unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights’, pledging a ‘whole-of-government effort’ to counter the law and calling for ‘women in Texas to have access to safe and legal abortions’, and affirmed in his statement that the Biden-Harris Administration will always fight to protect access to healthcare and defend a woman’s right to make decisions about her body and determine her future.”
Displeasure by the MEPs with the work of the U.S. Supreme Court and the potential impact of reversal of Roe v. Wade is expressed: “Is concerned by the upcoming consideration of the Supreme Court with Roe v. Wade and that this groundbreaking ruling which guarantees women’s rights could be overturned in the near future; fears that this would have a severe and broad impact on the access to healthcare and free choice of women in other states, given the fact that a further 11 states have so-called trigger laws banning the right to abortion currently in place, which would automatically enter into force in the event that Roe v. Wade were overruled.”
The resolution presents abortion as ‘essential’ health care and part of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The ‘realization of SRHR’ is described as “an essential element of human dignity and is intrinsically linked to the achievement of gender equality and combating gender-based violence.”
Statements condemning the Texas law, and pro-life laws in general, issued by pro-abortion activists serving on UN treaty monitoring bodies and on Special Procedures for the Human Rights Council are quoted and provide the rational for the human rights arguments in the resolution, including those that discount religious, cultural and political values. From page 6, “Underlines that on 14 September 2021, the UN experts stressed that ‘women’s human rights are fundamental rights that cannot be subordinated to cultural, religious or political considerations’, and that ‘adding that the influence of ideologically and religiously motivated interference in public health matters has been particularly detrimental to the health and well-being of women and girls’.”
The importance of the United National Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 5 and targets on universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are included in the resolution.
The unprecedented interference in the internal right of the United States to determine its own laws on abortion was supported in the EP by the socialists S&D, liberal Renew Europe, the Greens, and The Left political groups. The largest political group, the European People’s Party (EPP) was silent while the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) tabled a counter motion demanding the EU stay out of U.S. internal affairs when it comes to “ideological views”.
MEP M. Eugenia R. Palop, Vice-chair of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality stated her support for the resolution, “As a feminist I claim the essential role of women in supporting and defending life and I reject laws imposed by religious fundamentalists.”
MEP Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR) from Poland stated his opposition, “Divisive issues such as abortion should be discussed in a very balanced way, with understanding of the other side’s reasons. But let us also remember: health policy must be left to individual Member States.” He also tweeted: “On the issue of the protection of life and #abortion, this Parliament, and probably every parliament in the world, including the Texas State Congress, is divided.”
The right of parliaments to legislate on abortion was recognized in 1994 at the U.N. conference on population and development in Cairo. The ICPD Programme of Action recognized the right of state and national legislators to write laws on abortion, as Texas and other states have done. It states in 8.25: “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.”
Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for foreign affairs and top diplomat, delivered a statement during the debate in which he stated that he trusted “that the US authorities will take all necessary steps to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions and welcomes the Biden Administration’s intent to launch a whole-of-government effort to that end.”
He expressed the EU’s support for access to abortion, “In relation to health services, the European Union supports the promotion, protection and fulfilment of rights to autonomy in decision-making, as well as the rights to informed consent and confidentiality.”
Borrell welcomed Biden’s “establishment of a Gender Policy Council to advance gender equity and equality, by increasing access to health care, addressing health disparities and promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights” and acknowledged “the Biden Administration’s strong efforts to promote Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the US and around the world.”
The MEPs called on “the EU delegation in the US to monitor the situation of SRHR in Texas and other states”; called on the “EU Special Representative for Human Rights to denounce this violation of women’s sexual and reproductive rights in his exchanges with US officials”; and called on the “Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to condemn and denounce this violation of women’s sexual and reproductive rights and their right to healthcare in his exchanges with US officials.”
The resolution will be forwarded to President Biden and his administration, to Congress and to the Governor and Legislature of Texas.