Strasbourg, France, Dec 11, 2013 / 00:03 am
Members of the European Parliament have rejected a report which suggested that abortion be defined as a "human rights and public health concern."
The rejection of the report affirms the ability of the individual nations in the European Union to promote their own approach to sexual education and abortion policies.
"The formulation and implementation of policies on sexual and reproductive health and rights and on sex education in schools is a competence of the member states," stated the European People's Party and the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, two groups within the European Parliament who presented an alternative report that passed by a vote of 334 to 327, with 35 members abstaining from the vote.
The rejected report, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, had been submitted by Edite Estrela, a European Parliamentarian from Portugal, intended to establish abortion "as a human rights and public health concern" in the E.U.
As a result of this view of abortion as a right, the report sought to expand abortion in all countries of the E.U. and restrict "obstacles to the access of appropriate services" such as conscientious objection, waiting periods, pro-life counseling, and religious hospital's ability to refuse to perform certain "sexual health" procedures such as abortion.
Estrela's report also called for the provision of "sufficient funding for the broad (sexual and reproductive health and rights) agenda in all appropriate instruments" throughout the European Union.
Currently, while 20 out of the 27 countries in the European Union already permit abortion on demand up to a certain gestational limit, seven have some restrictions on abortion, and three – Ireland, Poland, and Malta – allow abortion only within limited circumstances.
The report also called for "compulsory" standards of sexual education to be taught to school-aged children, regardless of parental objection.
This is the second time the report has been rejected by the European Parliament: in October, the bill was tabled and sent back to the Women's Rights Committee for revisions. The Dec. 10 resolution was the result of said revisions.
The Estrela report was presented even though the European Union has no ability to determine laws on abortion, as such matters concerning abortion are left up to individual countries in the European Union.
The alternative report submitted by members of the European People's Party and the European Conservatives and Reformists Group affirmed this currently-standing policy.
Recently, a citizen-led initiative called "One of Us" received 1.8 million signatures on a petition to reinforce the E.U.'s inability to determine abortion policies by preventing the funding of abortion and embryo destruction by the European governing body.
John Smeaton, chief executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, called the Estrela report "one of the most concerted recent attempts to get the European Parliament to exceed its competence and try to impose abortion on European Union member-states," and celebrated the alternative proposal adopted by the legislature.
"Today's rejection of the Estrela report proves that peaceful and prayerful grassroots lobbying by pro-lifers can have a real positive impact in the political arena," Smeaton said, thanking pro-life "supporters at home and our colleagues in Europe for saving lives today."