Resolution passed at the EGP 4th Congress Meeting, Paris, November 11-13, 2011
We, the European Greens, demand: The recognition of the fundamental right of women to decide when and if they wish to have children, and the right to have an abortion in good psychological, sanitary or economic conditions, whatever their age, social origin or marital status.
Access to safe and legal abortion remains a controversial issue in European countries, where the laws differ from prohibition to more liberal legislation. Yet this political issue raises the challenge of the respect by all European countries and institutions of the fundamental rights stated by the various international conventions.
Over the last few months in Europe, several countries have been taking initiatives threatening the sexual rights of women, more particularly the right to abortion. The global crisis and austerity measures have been used as pretexts to legitimize the most conservative positions in Europe in that respect, thus challenging the rights of women.
The right to control one's own body, to choose one's pregnancies, and to have access to proper healthcare in reproductive matters is the cornerstone of an egalitarian society, and must therefore be acknowledged as a fully-fledged right. The right to have an abortion in good psychological, sanitary or economic conditions must be re-asserted as an indispensable condition to the evolution of countries.
The application of the right to voluntary interruption of pregnancy relies, crucially, on the capacity of hospitals to welcome women wishing to have an abortion. However, very often hospitals and VIP (voluntary pregnancy interruption) centers are far too few and largely overcrowded in many European countries. The cost of the medical act of voluntary pregnancy interruption remains largely underestimated (and therefore largely underfunded), which drives hospitals to perform as few VIPs as they can so as not to increase their debt.
In different European countries the political debate around the topic of abortion is quite various.
Poland together with Malta are the two states in Europe with the most restrictive frameworks for abortions. Moreover, last summer a law proposed by anti-choice movements and supported by the ultra-conservatives and a large part of the liberal right – further restricting abortion – was only rejected by a very short majority. At the same time, another project asking for public financing of contraception and the introduction of sexual education in schools was also rejected.
At the end of 2010, a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights declared that Ireland would have to amend its abortion laws. The court declared that Ireland had failed properly to implement the constitutional right to abortion in cases where a woman’s life is in danger. However, as the ruling does not challenge the ban on abortion where a woman's life is not considered at risk, Irish women will continue to travel abroad to have an abortion, at the rate of 12 a day.
Malta: Malta still has the most restrictive laws on abortion, which leaves women in Malta to go
abroad to have legal abortions. This situation is unbearable.
But not only in countries with restrictive abortion laws, the situation is alarming. Also in France the government has closed several centers dedicated to VIP, which leads many women to wait beyond the legal delays for an abortion (before 12 weeks of pregnancy in France) , and forces them to have abortions abroad. This fragile right is thus more and more challenged by the policies of the French Government. As a result, access to abortion is becoming more and more difficult for French women in spite of its legal frame. Moreover, the French government has put into place drastic changes in the financing of hospitals, making it depend on the number of medical acts performed.
Also in other European countries such as Spain, Switzerland and Germany anti-abortion movements are growing stronger threatening the laws on abortion. Additionally, on an EU-level during the Hungarian presidency a large campaign of communication against abortion with the financial support of European funds within the programme of social solidarity Progress was launched last May. This campaign follows the adoption of Hungary's new constitution, which, in article 2, is committed to protecting the life of the foetus since its conception.
These cases show a return to moral order under the pretext of economic constraints. This backlash against equality between men and women is extremely worrisome in the context of Europe. The right of women to control their own bodies is a fundamental, unalienable right. It is urgent to support and defend the women and men who struggle in all these countries for the right to choose and the liberalisation of abortion laws. The recognition of the fundamental right of women to decide when and if they wish to have children is a matter of public health. European democracy is at stake with this issue.
We, the European Greens, demand:
The recognition of the fundamental right of women to decide when and if they wish to have children, and the right to have an abortion in good psychological, sanitary or economic conditions, whatever their age, social origin or marital status.
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