On Tuesday of this week, the European Parliament will vote on a measure that classifies abortion as a fundamental human right.
The measure was scheduled for a vote after the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality issued a draft report last month discussing sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The report states that 20 member nations permit abortion on demand (generally with a gestational limit). Of the seven remaining nations, three have very liberal restrictions regarding abortion while three nations will perform abortions only under more limited circumstances. Malta is the only member of the European Union which completely prohibits abortion.
The measure the European Parliament is now considering contains no limits regarding gestational age – leaving open the possibility of elective-abortion-until-day-of-birth as a human right. Doubly disturbing are the severe infringement on conscience protections of physicians (specifically gynecologists and anesthesiologists) that are proposed.
The report asserts that currently, in countries where abortion is legal, it is often rendered unavailable due to physicians’ “abuse of conscientious objection or overly restrictive interpretations of existing limits.”
The proposed legislation seeks to require member nations to “regulate and monitor the use of conscientious objection so as to ensure that reproductive health care is guaranteed as an individual’s right, while access to lawful services is ensured and appropriate and affordable referrals systems are in place.”
The report goes on to state, “There are cases reported from Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Ireland and Italy where nearly 70 per cent of all gynecologists and 40 per cent of all anesthesiologists conscientiously object to providing abortion services.”
Anna Zaborska, a pro-life Slovak Member of the European Parliament and former Chairwoman of the Committee of Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, has stated that the report cannot be used to establish a “right to abortion.” She additionally criticized the attack on conscience rights.
“No person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to practices which could cause the death of a human embryo,” Ms. Zaborska said.
This measure claims to be a human rights issue yet it fundamentally ignores the human rights of the three key people involved in this tragic act. It ignores the most basic right, the right to life, of the baby at the center of the whole issue. It ignores women’s real needs by hiding them behind the iron curtain of abortion rhetoric. And it ignores the conscience of the doctor, who is being asked to end a human life after spending years training how to preserve it.
The European Union should not be asking physicians to suppress their consciences; it should be trying to find its own.
10/22/13 Update: The vote has been postponed and sent back to committee. Maltese MEPs Joseph Cuschieri and Roberta Metsola have both told The Malta Independent that they – and other Maltese MEPs – were against the arguments by the the measure’s cheif proponent Portuguese Socialist MEP Edite Estrela.