25th Sep 2023

EP approves report recommending abortion in EU

The European parliament approved on Wednesday a report, which recommends legalisation of abortion and easier access to emergency contraception in EU member states and candidate countries. The report drawn up by Belgian MEP Anne Van Lancker, was adopted by 280 votes for, 240 against and 28 abstentions.

Since the Van Lancker report is an own initiative report, it does not have any binding effect. This report will now be sent to the Council, Commission and member states, where they will review the recommendations. However, as it puts an emphasis on candidate countries as well, it is not excluded that it may have an impact on the enlargement negotiations.

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  • The European Parliament adopted paragraph 12 of the report, which recommends that abortion should be made legal, safe and accessible to all. (Photo: EUobserver)

The EP adopted paragraph 12 of the report, which recommends that abortion should be made legal, safe and accessible to all. Although the UEN proposed to delete this paragraph, their amendment was rejected. The report does not intend to harmonise laws on abortion, but since the recommendation falls under the competency of the member states and accession countries, it will be a matter for them to consider how to respond in line with their own constitutional and legal frameworks.

An amendment to the section on contraception, was introduced by the EPP-ED group, which now recommends the governments of the member states and the accession countries to facilitate access to affordable emergency contraception like the morning-after pill.

Need for better sex education

The report stresses on the importance of having better sex education and easier access to contraception, so as to help women avoiding unwanted pregnancies, thus reducing the possibility of women recurring to abortions. It also calls on the Commission to develop a database concerning sexual and reproductive health and rights on harmonised reproductive health indicators.

In his intervention after the debate in the plenary session of the European Parliament on Tuesday, Commissioner for Health and Consumer protection David Byrne said that the Commission is prepared to compile and undertake statistical, epidemiological investigations on the bases of collected data. However he stressed that the quality of such work will depend on the quality and compatibility of the data provided by the Member states.

Men also bear responsibility

Commissioner Byrne highlighted the importance of individuals being informed and educated in all aspects of sexual and reproductive health, however he emphasised that men also bear responsibility. "Too often we overlook the importance of improving men's education so as to change behaviour, attitudes and involvement. I hope that our Member states will place a greater emphasis on the education and information of men in this important area," he said.

The report had sparked mixed reactions within the European Parliament, where the EPP-ED and UEN group wanted the report to be referred back to committee, claiming that it was not a competence of the European Parliament.

EU report recommends legalisation on abortion

The European Parliament on Tuesday will debate a controversial report which recommends the legalisation of abortion in EU member states. The report by Belgian Socialist, Anne Van Lancker on sexual and reproductive health rights, is being opposed by the Conservative group EPP-ED and the UEN group in the European Parliament, which want the report to be refined and put back to Committee stage. In favour, however, are the Socialists and the Greens.

The report already brought strong reactions from the Catholic Church. The Maltese Catholic Church said "abortion is murder and is against the will of God. The Catholic Church strongly condemns abortion, and the bishops urge everyone to reunite in prayer so that the European Parliament turns down the proposal", a church statement said.

Abortion to remain illegal in Malta after EU entry

Protocol on Abortion will be annexed to Malta’s Accession Treaty to the EU, which would give legal certainty that EU law, present or future would not be able to change Maltese law on abortion. Malta is not the first country to negotiate a protocol on abortion. Ireland, which has been a member of the EU since 1973, also has a special protocol on abortion.

Poland angry about pro-abortion report

Polish politicians have reacted angrily to a report passed by the European Parliament on Wednesday which recommends legalisation of abortion and easier access to emergency contraception in EU member states and candidate countries.


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