Catholic leader criticizes EU Parliament for backing motion on US abortion law

CNA_54b530740ba73_44984.jpg The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Nov. 25, 2014. | Alan Holdren/CNA.

A Catholic leader on Thursday criticized the European Parliament for voting in favor of a motion denouncing the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion on abortion.

Father Manuel Barrios Prieto, the secretary general of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), told Vatican News on June 9 that the vote showed “a certain tendency in the European Parliament and European institutions that is not favorable to life.”

Members of the European Parliament, the EU’s law-making body, voted in Strasbourg, France, on June 9 to pass the motion “Global threats to abortion rights: the possible overturning of abortion rights in the U.S. by the Supreme Court,” with 364 votes in favor, 154 against, and 37 abstentions.

The 32-point resolution states that the European Parliament “is deeply concerned about the potential consequences for women’s rights worldwide, should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v Wade.”

It also expresses fear that overturning the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide would have “a chilling effect on prioritizing and funding” abortion globally.

Politico, the news organization that leaked the draft opinion in May, reported that the vote in favor of the motion was preceded by an “acrimonious debate” on June 8.

It said that the German politician Terry Reintke broke the European Parliament’s rules by speaking while wearing a green scarf with a pro-abortion message. She declined to remove it despite being asked to by the parliament’s president Roberta Metsola.

Father Prieto noted that the motion was not binding, but said it was nevertheless worrying because it asserted that “to defend the health of the woman one has to guarantee the ‘right’ to abortion.”

“This is something that is totally contrary to the position of the Church, not only of the Church, but every person who sees in the embryo a new life, different from the life of the mother, that has to be protected,” he said.

The Spanish priest spoke out on the eve of the European Parliament debate, saying that the motion marked “an unacceptable interference in the democratic jurisdictional decisions of a sovereign state, a country that is also not a member state of the EU.”

The European Parliament voted in 2021 in favor of a report describing abortion as “essential healthcare” and seeking to redefine conscientious objection as a “denial of medical care.”

The vote was criticized by Catholic groups and Vatican “foreign minister” Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

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