On Tuesday 22 October, in a lively debate, Members of the European Parliament voted for a referral back to committee (351 versus 319) of the controversial report written by Portuguese minister, Edite Estrela (Gènéthque press review on October 7th, 2013). This report, which has no limiting value in terms of Member State and European Union law, nevertheless has a symbolic impact since "the report should become a source of law used in numerous pregnancies both at home and abroad" warned Grégor Puppinck before the vote, Director of the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ).
The main concerns that led to the rejection of this report initiative included the assimilation of abortion legislation to a "basic right", the promotion of contraception and abortion amongst minors, "mandatory sexual education for all primary and secondary school pupils" and the access to MAP [medically assisted procreation] for "single women and lesbians". Furthermore, it promoted sexual and reproduction rights, including abortion, as part of the development cooperation framework.
MPs also pointed out that the areas covered by this report, namely "the health policy and management of medical treatment", were not considered European prerogatives and that only the States could address them.
The Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality must therefore present a new version as quickly as possible with a view to the spring 2014 electoral elections. However, "the Commission
[may decide] to suspend the procedure sine die for this legislative period
At the same time, the collection of signatures for the One of us petition in favour of protecting human embryos will continue up to 31 October.