Sunday, December 3, 2023

MEPs call for abortion to be included in the Charter of Fundamental Rights

Meeting in plenary in Strasbourg on Thursday, MEPs asked the Twenty-Seven that the right to abortion be included in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, after its challenge in the United States. “Everyone has the right to benefit from a safe and legal abortion”, indicates the text approved by 324 parliamentarians (155 against, 38 abstentions). Adopted in 2000, the legally binding charter of fundamental rights has the same value as the treaties.

Including abortion in the fundamental rights, however, requires the unanimity of the Member States, according to the current rules. However, this subject of society divides the Twenty-Seven, which is why MEPs also asked the Council for “a convention allowing the treaties to be revised” in order to challenge the rule of unanimity which still applies to strategic areas. .

The European Parliament accompanied its resolution with a new strong condemnation of the “backsliding of women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States and in certain Member States”. The United States Supreme Court on June 24 ended the federal legal guarantee of abortion throughout the country. It is now up to the 50 American states to decide on abortion.

Reflections in France

“EU countries should ensure access to safe, legal and free abortion services, prenatal and maternal care services, voluntary family planning, contraception, youth-friendly services, as well as HIV prevention, treatment and support, without discrimination,” MEPs insist in their resolution.

Already in January, before the astonishment caused by the decision of the American Supreme Court, French President Emmanuel Macron, who was then taking over the rotating presidency of the EU, had wanted to include the right to abortion in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. His political party and the current French government also plan to enshrine it in the French Constitution.

“Let us give women in Europe the guarantee that no judge will be able to unravel these rights and let us remind the reactionaries of what they really are: a relic of the past which has no future in the European Union”, declared Stéphane Séjourné, leader of the centrist deputies of the Renew group.

Restrictions in Poland

Out of 27 Member States, 24 EU countries have legalized or decriminalized abortion, without the need for justification on the part of the woman who decides to have abortion. The maximum delay for an abortion varies from 10 weeks of pregnancy in Portugal to 24 weeks in the Netherlands, with more than half of the countries having set this limit at 12.

In Poland, abortion has only been allowed in cases of rape or danger to the life of the mother since January 2021. After trying to ban it completely in 2016, the government restricted it by removing the possibility of aborting in the event of a serious malformation of the fetus, which concerned more than 90% of abortions in the country.

Prohibition in Malta

It is only in Malta that abortion is totally prohibited, whatever the situation. At the end of June, however, the Maltese government announced a review of law enforcement in the country, after a serious medical incident. A pregnant American tourist, who suffered a partial miscarriage while vacationing on the island and was at risk of life-threatening infection, was unable to get medical support, despite the fetus having no chance of survival . The patient was evacuated to Spain.

The issue of abortion remains very sensitive in Malta and complicated the election of the Maltese Roberta Metsola, at the beginning of the year, to the presidency of the European Parliament. The conservative MEP had not officially taken a position for the right to abortion, but stressed that she would represent the views of the majority of parliamentarians. The recent decision of the American Supreme Court puts the subject at the top of the European agenda.

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