Abortion: Spain’s draft bill is debated in the European Parliament

Publié le : 17 January 2014

 Late morning, the European Parliament focused the debate, as planned, on the subject of “Non-discrimination in the framework of sexual and reproductive health and rights – declaration by the Commission” (Estrela report) on Spain’s draft abortion bill.

Pro-abortion campaigners, spearheaded by Ms. Estrela, Portuguese MP, termed the draft Spanish bill as "regressive", "a return to the past", "a danger for Europe" and even as "ideology", "returning us to Europe’s darkest hours" according to Ms. Berrès, French MP.  They asked the European Commissioner to respect "the right to choose", which they presented as a fundamental right of women, and to defend Europe against this Spanish threat. One by one, they highlighted the "danger" of the draft Spanish bill, which could herald a return to dangerous clandestine abortions or the discrimination of women based on wealth.

Faced with such pressure, the pro-life MPs delivered a strong response. Italian MP Mr. Carlo Casini initially pointed out that there is no reference in any national or international document stating that a conceived being is not a human being, and that, in this debate, "the rights of both the mother and the child" had to be respected. He pointed out to his opponents that everyone must defend genetic and sexual rights but abortion was not included in these rights. Other MPs then highlighted the father’s responsibility in such cases and the decision of the European Committee, Brüstle c/Greenpeace, which confirmed that life begins at the time of conception. The lack of competence shown by the European Union on this subject was also mentioned with reference to the "anti-European arguments" that would inevitably ensue if Europe were to embark on this topic. Mr. Stier, the Croatian MP, had the last word on the subject, "All this debate for a draft Spanish bill. We have to accept the fact that life begins with conception – that’s what 20th century science tells us. But this is a matter for Spanish, not European debate. So, let’s move on, long live Spain and let’s defend the right to life".

At the end of this debate, Mr. Kallas, Vice-President of the European Commission stated that: "the Commission recognises State independence in terms of abortion […]  The European Union has no jurisdiction when it comes to matters of national policies relating to abortion". He nevertheless concluded rather ambiguously: "But the Commission nevertheless wishes to abolish any form of discrimination in terms of health care with the Member States". What does he mean by "health care"? For the time being, the threat of the Estrela report has been quashed and the draft Spanish bill preserved.

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