EU Says the Priorities of Women Workers are Access to Abortion, and LGBT Rights

By Marianna Orlandi, Ph.D. | February 23, 2017

European Parliament/Flickr

NEW YORK, February 24 (C-Fam) The EU Parliament recently announced its “priorities” for the next Commission on the Status of Women are “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.” The EU document implies that limiting access to abortion is an infringement of women’s rights.

The EU recommendation invites the EU Council to “counter the impact of the gag rule,” a term abortion advocates have used to denigrate the Reagan-era policy which ensures that U.S. taxpayer only funds groups that promise not to promote or perform abortions. The text was drafted by the Committee on Women’s Rights (FEMM). FEMM’s rapporteurs described the policy as forms of “sexism and Trumpism,” and said somebody “in the Oval Office” “wants us to … stop repeating the claim “Our bodies – our rights.”

abortion-chartSimilarly, Canada’s Minister on Status of Women, Maryam Monsef, said denying access to abortion is a form of violence against women. “We’re committed to making sure that women and girls have that choice, because otherwise, this is a form of gender-based violence,” Monsef said. Canada’s Prime Minister already announced that his approach to international aid includes abortion.

The European Parliament has urged policy makers to counter the Mexico City Policy by replacing funds lost by the Trump’s reenactment of the policy “using both national as well as EU development funding.”

As for the “financial gap” and its “impact,” Mexico City Policy cuts exclusively U.S. funds for performing abortion, and also promoting it. The argument that defunding abortion is linked to higher abortion rates is based on two studies with significant flaws in data and methodology.

Conservative critics underline how the EU’s recently suggested actions, if implemented, would exceed the competence of the European Union, and promote and fund abortion overseas.

The EU Council and Commission have repeatedly affirmed that the regional organization lacks competence on abortion, a subject left to member states’ legislatures. Furthermore, the EU cannot adopt aid policies and actions on reproductive and sexual health and rights in developing countries that include abortion. “No support is to be given … to encourage sterilization or abortion.”

The relevant rules on foreign aid also provide that the EU cannot promote abortion as a method of family planning and that it must provide post-abortion counselling, which helps “to avoid repeat abortions.”

A report from European Dignity Watch showed such guidelines are not likely to be followed unless the EU adopts some sort of “Mexico City Policy” too. At present, EU money are given to organizations such as International Planned Parenthood Federation or Marie Stopes International, and there is no financial accountability on how these funds are being spent. EU citizens cannot be sure that their taxes are not paying for abortions; and they have many reasons to suspect the opposite.

European countries are already gearing up to replace any money lost to abortion groups because of the new US policy. Belgium will soon host “She Decides,” an international conference to finance access to abortion for women in developing countries. Combined with the Netherlands and Denmark, the three countries committed $32 million to such policies.

The EU Parliament also calls for ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention, which has been criticized for its novel interpretation of gender “as a social construct.” Hence, the EU recommendation “emphasise(s) the need to protect and promote the rights of LGBTI women.”