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EU Parliament Fails to Back Women’s Rights

An anti-choice alliance within the European Parliament narrowly voted last week to shelve a report that put reproductive rights on the same level as human rights, arguing that those issues are not the concern of the parliament and should be dealt with on a national level. The report speaks of the prevalence of teenage pregnancy, the importance of making contraception widely available, comprehensive sex education and quality family planning services. It also says that women have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, timing and spacing of their children and underlines the importance of safe abortions.

The author of the report, Portuguese Member of Parliament Edite Estrela, summed it up as being about giving everybody the right to make "their own informed and responsible choices on their sexual and reproductive life."

The vote against the resolution provoked an immediate and frustrated response from members of parliament, according to EUobserver.com:

Estrela said the alliance had opened a "new front against the EU's founding principles of human dignity, freedom, equality and non-discrimination."

A member representing Austria said the center-right in Parliament had brought "shame" on the parliament, and that the non-binding agreement didn’t try to impose a “universal view” on abortion. Rather, the emphasis was on making sure that where abortion is legal, it is safe.

In countries like Poland and Ireland, for example, abortion is legal in limited circumstances such as when a woman’s life is in danger or in instances of rape or incest, but women are still unable to access services. In both countries, the Center is working to make sure that women have access to abortion where the law provides it while simultaneously pressing for legal reforms that yield expanded legal access.

See a joint statement from the Center and its European partner organizations here.

See the Center’s press release here.