Painful debate on abortion in the European Parliament

The US Supreme Court may be taking a step back in time by reversing the right to abortion. A step backwards in this right granted to women which was debated in the Strasbourg hemicycle, in the presence of the French secretary Isabelle Rome.

In the USA, the right to abortion is being denied to women. Foto: Suiren2022 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0int

(Elsa Woeffler / Alexandre Binder) – The atmosphere is electric among the MEPs, a handful of women and six men, as they debate a resolution to condemn the USA for its rollback of the right to abortion. A handful of women and six men were present in the Strasbourg hemicycle to debate the European Parliament’s motion for a resolution condemning the European Union’s potential decision to overturn the US Supreme Court’s guarantee of abortion rights for American women. For some, this motion for a resolution remains absurd, as the USA is not part of any European institution, nor does it revolve around the same system. “This Parliament has no power to tell the USA what it can do, the USA is no longer a colony. You don’t want to be told no, you don’t want to be told that we don’t agree with you,” says German MEP Christine Anderson.

There is disagreement in the European parliament. Indeed, the right to abortion has been an almost sterile debate since the dawn of time, with everyone sticking to their positions. The same is true for the MEPs: “Everyone has the freedom to choose what to do with their bodies, except women, and that is a shame”, says Croatian MEP Pedrag Fred Matic from the S&D group. For others, access to abortion is also access to death. “Don’t you think that the right to life should be the greatest right in Europe? In 2022, in Europe, we should be protecting life, not destroying it,” said German MEP Helmut Geuking from the EPP group. “A man can have unprotected sex and not pay the price. You are a man and you should not lecture me, because you will never experience it”, answered German MEP Maria Noichl, also member of the S&D group.

The French Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister, responsible for Equality between Women and Men, Diversity and Equal Opportunities, Isabelle Rome, stated that she wants Europe to consolidate its values and identity in the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The right to abortion is being rolled back in many countries. This is the case in the United States, which is challenging the freedom to terminate a pregnancy. Indeed, the American Supreme Court could rule in favor of cancelling the protection of abortion rights, a right guaranteed in the country. A right that is not unanimously supported in the world, and even in Europe. Indeed, Poland, a member state of the European Union since 2004, has virtually banned all voluntary termination of pregnancy in the country since 2020. “This is the first time that the European Union has banned abortion in Poland since 2004”, said MEPs. MEPs also urged so-called “transit countries”, i.e. countries that are part of the transit of Ukrainian refugees, to guarantee access to abortion and reproductive health for Ukrainian women.

On this subject, as sensitive as it is taboo, bringing together different ideologies in the same hemicycle, MEPs voted the day after the debate, on Thursday June 9, 2022. The result was a large majority denouncing the rollback of abortion rights perpetrated by the United States. The resolution was adopted by 364 votes to 154 with 37 abstentions.

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