In December 2008, the Center for Reproductive Rights, together with ASTRA, intervened at a hearing in the European Parliament and held meetings with the European Commission regarding the proposal for a Directive on non-discriminatory access to goods and services.
The text of the Directive as proposed by the Commission prohibited discrimination on the grounds on sexual orientation, religious affiliation, age, etc. in access to health care, but specifically excluded reproductive rights from its scope. The Center and ASTRA submitted memos to the Commission and to the European Parliament , emphasizing that reproductive health care and rights is a central component of health care, as recognized by international consensus and WHO documents. Accordingly, the Directive as drafted would exclude a whole category of health care from its protection, which could have many negative implications and because it is health care mostly needed by women it would perpetuate discrimination, not eliminate it. In addition, we argued that that this exclusion is inconsistent with older non-discrimination directives governing race and gender, which do not exclude reproductive rights from protection and would set a bad precedence for the future.
In a subsequent report on the Directive issued in March 2009 by European Parliament Rapporteur Buitenweg, the issue concerning reproductive health and rights was raised. The report recognized that the proposed Directive would “permit discrimination in connection with reproductive rights [and]…consider[ed] this undesirable.” The report therefore recommended amending the text of the Directive to take out the explicit exemption of protection for reproductive rights. This recommendation was adopted by the European Parliament in April 2009. The Directive as amended by the Parliament now awaits approval from the European Council.