Faced with Donald Trump, the European Union insists on making abortion a major challenge

Publié le 22 Mar, 2017

The EU agrees on rejecting the decisions taken by Trump’s administration concerning aborting, but seems to have forgotten that the subject is outside its control and is stifling the voices that denounce abortion.


The “Mexico City policy”, reestablished by Trump last January, bans international non-governmental organizations from giving out any information about the subject in developing countries. Rebaptised “global gag rule” at the European Parliament, this measure and its consequences were debated in plenary session in Strasbourg last Tuesday, under the leadership of Christos Stylianides, the European commissioner in charge of humanitarian aids.


The commissioner said he was “concerned” about the “negative effects” of this decision, which “could have an impact on the [European] objectives concerning world development”. That is why he wishes to find a common agreement within the EU to go against these impacts. According to him, “EU policies are based on our priorities and values and not on what others in the world do or stop doing”. Following his reasoning, does this mean abortion is a European value?


Several Eurodeputies shared his “indignation” and asked for the creation of a European budget to compensate for any future deficit of the organizations concerned. The Dutch Eurodeputy, Sophia in’t Veld, thus tabled an amendment to the EU budget project.  According to these deputies, we risk seeing the mortality of women increase due to clandestine abortions. They therefore use arguments such as “health”, “security”, and even “child protection”. Malin Björk (Sweden) declared it was a “question of life and death for women across the world”. Charles Goerens from Luxemburg even defended abortion as a support to “doctors who save lives” with abortion. In the meantime, in Africa, women are still waiting for funds to be able to give birth safely. The world seems to be moving backwards.


Faced with this surge against Donald Trump, accusing him of “hatred towards women”, a few deputies bravely tried to argue. “Why complain?”, asked Branislav Skripek (Slovakia), “abortion is a genocide (…) to abort is to kill a child, it has nothing to do with public health, or basic care”. In the name of his political group (European Conservatives and Reformists, ECR), he declared “he does not support the Commission’s attempt at spending millions in order to export this cruelty to developing countries”. As for Beatrix Von Stroch (Germay), she reminded the audience that “the EU has no competence in that field”, and along with Marek Jurek (Poland) voiced the idea that it should rather step into the breach”. Marie-Christine Arnautu, French Eurodeputy, also expressed a strong point of view, reminding the deputies of the crime of obstruction to abortion just created by her country (cf. Criminal obstruction to abortion: The National Assembly censures freedom of expression). She called upon her colleagues’ good sense and mentioned that it was “up to the American government to decide upon its own funding criteria’s concerning NGO’s”.  At a time in which “50 million abortions are carried out every year throughout the world, an attempt at reducing abortion should truly become an objective of public health. So should providing information on alternatives”. Marijana Petri (Croatia) pointed out the fact that the main NGO being targeted was “the family planning, based on abortion’.


Despite these several sensible answers, the debate came out as a long standoff, full of one-sided vocabulary. From now on abortion has become a “humanitarian issue” for the European Parliament, which “saves lives”. A definition that allows no contradictions, no questioning, not even on its form! It remains to be seen whether these “debates” will be remembered as a simple “well-though” agitation or if they will be turned into real actions through funding. To be continued…

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