(PRESS RELEASE) By a margin of seven votes, the European Parliament rejected a resolution today that called for access to safe and legal abortion, contraceptive services, non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and comprehensive sexuality education. This comes after a massive and deliberately misleading campaign by conservative groups against the progressive report—the “Estrela report”— on sexual and reproductive health and rights that accompanied the resolution.
Instead the Parliament adopted an alternative resolution initiated by the European People’s Party and European Conservatives and Reformist Group that merely states that policies on sexual and reproductive health and rights are at the discretion of European Union member states.
Said Johanna Westeson, regional director for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“On International Human Rights Day, when we should be celebrating how far we’ve come in protecting fundamental human rights, the European Parliament has failed to support women’s right to control their fertility and has turned a blind eye to the discrimination Europeans face based on their age, sexual orientation or gender identity.
“The Center for Reproductive Rights, along with our allies across Europe, are disappointed that the European Parliament missed such a clear opportunity to address the threats to sexual and reproductive rights that are on the rise in the region.”
While not adopting the progressive resolution, the European Parliament also conclusively rejected an opposing motion that had been tabled by the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group, by an overwhelming 548 votes. This motion proposed support for greater restrictions on access to safe abortion, among other retrogressive measures.
Earlier this year, Rapporteur Edite Estrela—a member of the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament—spearheaded the Estrela Report that demonstrates how investment in reproductive health care in Europe is essential in achieving gender equality and how non-discrimination is critical to the core values of the European Union. The report was adopted by a large majority in the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality on September 18.