ECR group wants SRHR debate to be scrapped; says issue "overreaches" EU's competence

The European Parliament is due to debate and vote on a controversial report urging Member States to protect and further enhance women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

23 Jun 2021

In the report, MEPs are set to call for access to safe and legal abortion and stress that sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are “fundamental women’s rights.”

The report was drafted by S&D Croatian member Predrag Fred Matić and says that SRHR are human rights and “must be guaranteed for everyone, without discrimination.”

A debate on the report was due to be held later on Wednesday evening with a vote on Thursday.

However, the ECR group has asked Parliament’s President David Sassoli to intervene and strike the debate and vote from the agenda because it says the Matić report is “inadmissible.”

An internal email, seen by this site, from Sassoli says, “I have received from the ECR group a motion under Rule 197 of the Rules of Procedure calling for the Matić report on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women’s health to be declared inadmissible.”

It is not known if a decision on whether the debate and vote will take place has yet been taken.

An ECR spokesman explained why it had tabled the motion.

He told this site, “The EU would overstep its competences in many aspects, such as health and education, and in particular on abortion, which is in no way an EU competency. Commissioner Helena Dalli has clearly stated this in earlier plenary debates.”

“ECR Shadow Rapporteur Ms de la Pisa and ECR FEMM Coordinator Ms Wiśniewska do not consider abortion a human right because no international human rights treaty provides such a right.”

“The EU would overstep its competences in many aspects, such as health and education, and in particular on abortion, which is in no way an EU competency” ECR spokesman

The spokesman went on, “The draft also violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and contradicts the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union. Moreover, important problems emerge, for example, regarding the freedom of conscience of physicians.”

Further comment comes in a statement from the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM), which was signed by four MEPs, Peter van Dalen, Helmut Geuking, Bert Jan Ruissen and Cristian Terhes.

It reads, “The report focuses on the so-called sexual and reproductive health and rights which is a blanket term that is often used to include different controversial policy themes: sexual education, gender ideology, abortion, obstetrics. However, it has been specifically and increasingly used to mean access to and funding of abortion, something that we see as problem.”

It goes on, “Taking note of some good points in the Matić report, it promotes many policies that are not concurrent with the EU law and competence. Furthermore, it creates a precedent which can undermine fundamental human rights.”

“The Matić report dismisses the conscience clause of the doctors and calls on Member States to implement effective regulatory and enforcement measures that ensure that the conscience clause is removed from national law.”

It says, “Abortion, gender identity theory, comprehensive sexuality education curricula and contraception are sensitive, controversial issues which are prescribed by international or European law and on which there is no consensus.”

“As a result, the Matić report violates the principle of subsidiarity and falls outside the European Parliament’s competence. The report would have done a much better service to the EU and global health if it had remained within the competence of the EU in these matters.”

“For all these reasons, we are voting against this report and we call on all MEPs to do the same.”

Neither Matić nor anyone from S&D was immediately available for comment.

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