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27th Nov 2021

EU court delivers blow to anti-abortion activists

  • General Court of the European Union says the European Commission committed 'no error in its assessment of the legal situation.' (Photo: katarina_dzurekova)

The European Commission was right to deny demands by anti-abortion activists to launch new legislation - despite their successful citizen initiative bid on the subject, Europe's top judges have ruled.

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on Monday (23 April) ruled a European citizen's initiative cannot require the commission to submit a proposal for a legal act.

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The ruling follows a legal challenge by the Belgium-based "One of US" campaign. In 2014 it demanded the EU stop financing the destruction of human embryos.

The commission refused to act given, in part, that research into embryonic stem cells offer potential for life-saving treatments. "One of US" then pressed the case at Luxembourg-court, which they lost.

"A contrary interpretation would result in the commission being stripped of all discretion in exercising its powers of legislative initiative following a European citizens' initiative," said the court.

The campaign had amassed some 1.7 million signatures.

Of those, around 235,000 came from Poland alone, whose conservative government earlier this year introduced a bill to tighten abortion laws. The predominately Catholic country already has some of the toughest abortion laws in Europe.

"One of US" says any verdict that challenged its demands would amount to discrimination and render the citizen's initiative meaningless.

The campaign, which describes itself as an international federation rooted in common Christian values, is supported by right-wing Polish MEP Marek Jurek.

Jurek heads the Right of the Republic, a Polish Christian conservative party that aims to ban abortion and introduce capital punishment.

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In recent years, proposals for bans and restrictions on voluntary terminations have risen in some EU member states - as well as bills proposing more 'conditions' before women are allowed to access abortions.

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Norway's conservative prime minister, Erna Solberg, has proposed tightening the country's abortion laws, in a political gambit that goes against Europe's liberal trend.

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