Women’s rights threatened again by conservatives at the European Parliament

3 December 2013

On 10 December 2013, the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Report by Edite Estrela will come back at the European Parliament plenary meeting.

This report was sent back to the Women’s Rights Committee as a result of the plenary meeting of 22 October where conservative MEPs succeeded to block the vote.

On 26 November, a majority of committee members voted again in favour of the amended report by 19 against 15.

Religious harassment 

In the perspective of the vote of 10 December, Members of the European Parliament have been harassed  - more than 80 000 emails received –  by extremist religious organisations[1]requesting them to reject the report, sometimes with personal threats.

These organisations have spread the most shameful lies about the content of the report, saying for instance that its adoption would lead to compulsory masturbation for children or to legalisation of paedophilia in Europe.

Moreover, opponents to women’s rights within the European Parliament have claimed that the procedure of adoption of the report was “undemocratic” and offically complained to EP President Martin Schulz. But this is just another technique to delay and block the vote on this report on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Mobilising forces for women’s rights  

Together with other progressive NGOs, the EHF has been mobilizing MEPs to ensure a majority vote for the report on 10 December. We have particularly called MEPs to take the following considerations into account:

1.     Many lies have been told regarding the content of the report. This second version has kept the most important issues from the initial proposals. Nevertheless, it has taken out several controversial parts such as access to fertility treatments, parts on surrogate motherhood, and on sexuality education. This second version is well balanced and still progressive.

2.     Opponents to women’s rights will argue that the followed procedure within the Women’s Rights committee is illegal and non-democratic; this is simply not true. There were 4 debates in the FEMM committee about this report, including a Public Hearing, 217 amendments had been tabled to the report and 34 compromises had been made. To this second report, no new amendments have been tabled as agreed, unanimously, by shadows and coordinators.

3.      Some religious groups are reacting strongly against this report. Although they are vocal, they do not represent more than a tiny portion of the EU citizens who, in their overwhelming majority, are in favour of giving women (and every person in Europe) access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

4.    This report does not impose obligations on women but insists on freedom of choice. It provides a very in-depth analysis of SRHR, including important aspects such as the need to provide comprehensive sexuality education for girls and boys, to protect pregnancy and childbirth by fighting maternal mortality as well as the need to protect contraception and safe abortion. It also takes into consideration gender-based violence related to SRHR as well as STIs prevention and treatment, including HIV/AIDS

Women’s sexual and reproductive rights ARE human rights. We therefore call the EU to stop with double standards and all MEPS to firmly commit to the defense of these rights on 10 December. 

 

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For more information about the content of the report, read the document prepared with the support of many SRHR organizations including CRR, DSW, EPF, IPPF EN, MSI and UNFPA.

 

[1] Among others : La Manif pour Tous and le Printemps Français (Fr),European Dignity Watch, the European Federation of Catholic Family Associations, “One of Us” – the Vatican supported petition to protect the “physical integrity” of the human embryo in Europe, “The Turtle Bay and Beyond