New EU-wide pro-choice initiative

// 9 June 2009

womensphere reports that the Swedish Liberal Party has launched a campaign which aims to get women’s access to abortion recognised as a human right protected under EU law, meaning states would be denied membership if their female population is unable to freely and legally access abortion. Entitled ‘Make Noise For Free Choice’, the campaign is founded on the belief that denying women access to free, legal, safe abortion violates the following human rights:

* The right to health: a universally recognized human right to which all people are entitled; respecting women’s right to health requires the decriminalization of abortion.

* The rights to nondiscrimination and equality: abortion is a medical procedure that only women need. The denial of health care services needed only by women is a discriminatory act. The U.N. Human Rights Committee has repeatedly established a clear link between women’s equality and the availability of reproductive health services, including abortion.

* The right to privacy: decision of parenthood is deeply personal and exactly the type of interest privacy rights should protect.

The campaign is particularly critical of Ireland and NI, where abortion is illegal unless the woman’s life is in danger; Poland, where access is restricted to cases of foetal abnormality, rape and threat to the woman’s life; and Malta, where it is completely illegal.

The organisers aim to gain one million signatures supporting the initiative by October 2010, so get to it!

Comments From You

Frances // Posted 11 June 2009 at 12:17 am

I went to a seminar at UCL at the beginning of the academic year on feminism and law, and one of the keynote speakers was Baroness Hale – who is absolutely fantastic – but one of the comments she made was about the EU and abortion access. It was, to put it simply, that there European Court would never be used to secure women’s access to abortion, because to do so would be so polemic that it would pull apart the authority that the court has.

Europe only exists so long as member states remain within it, and the convention on human rights only has validity while it is followed, and few topics are more likely to undo this than reproductive rights. Sadly, I believe what she said is true, I cannot imagine countries that try to restrict their own citizens’ access (NI, Portugal, Poland) allowing the decision to be made at a more centralised level.

Miranda // Posted 11 June 2009 at 3:29 pm

Countries such as Poland and Portugal receive huge amounts of money from the EU, which was why they wanted to join in the first place. If it was made clear to them that this money would be stopped if they didn’t quickly comply with securing abortion access rights for women, I’m sure it could all happen within weeks.

Of course such a threat will not be made, because EU governments are never going to clash with one another over an issue which concerns exclusively women. It wouldn’t be deemed important enough.

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