The European Parliament passes the controversial Matic report to promote “free and legal abortion without barriers”
The European Evangelical Alliance had called to reject the report: “Abortion is about the life of the woman but also about the life of the unborn child. Both lives matter”.
BRUSSELS · 25 JUNE 2021 · 08:57 CET
The European Parliament passed on 23 June the known as Matic report, a motion on “situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the European Union”, with 378 votes in favour, 255 votes against and with 32 abstentions.
The key point that stood out in the vote had to do with the promotion of “free and legal abortion” for all women in EU members States.
Two parliamentary minorities tried to either block of amend the report, but a majority finally supported the text as it was presented by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and led by rapporteur Predrag Fred Matić, who defended the text.
Outcome of the vote on the Matic report in the European Parliament, 24 June. / EP
'Barriers to abortion' presented as lack of democracy
The report adopted by the European Parliament is not biding for the European Union countries, but adds pressure to States who have stronger pro-life policies, because the document countries to “fully acknowledge that sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights”.
“Free and legal abortion” should be available everywhere in the EU, says the report, and “barriers in the access to abortion” are seen as a “violation” of women rights and a perpetuation of “inequalities”.
The report goes as far as attacking two of the EU member states (Poland and Malta), speaking of a “backlash against women’s rights” in the area of “safe and legal abortions”, which the European Parliament describes as an “erosion of democracy and personal freedoms” in Europe.
Another controversial aspect of the approved report is that it says that medical professionals who do not perform abortions on the base of conscientious objection are falling into an “evident and multidimensional violation” that “breaches human rights”. The conscientious objection in these cases, the Matic report says, is “a European challenge which must be addressed”.
European Evangelical Alliance reaction
The European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) Brussels officer, Arie de Pater, told Evangelical Focus that “the importance of the Matić report is merely symbolic” because “health care and medical services are a not a competency of the European Union”. “However, when adopted, the report is an important voice in the debate about sexual and reproductive health”.
The Matic report contains “quite a few topics we can fully support”, the EEA said, “like access to affordable high-quality gender-specific health care services for all, the availability of affordable menstrual products, high-quality health care during pregnancy, childbirth and thereafter, access to education for girls etc”.
“But we disagree on the promotion of abortion as a standard medical procedure and on the limitation of conscientious objection for medical professionals”.
The EEA underlines the fact that “abortion is about the life of the woman but also about the life of the unborn child. Both lives matter. When the state democratically decides abortion is legal, it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that it is available. The state should fully respect, however, any conscientious objections of medical professionals involved”.
There are “positive elements” in the adopted report, says the body representing 23 Million evangelical Christians in Brussels, but “we still feel that the European Parliament should limit itself to topics that are within the competencies of the Union” and a “rejection of the Matić report” would have been desirable.
Previous calls to vote “no”
As reported by Evangelical Focus before, the text had been criticised in the Committee that prepared it by a minority of MEPs who said abortion is not an Human Right according to international standards and criticised the “manipulation” international organisations like the EU try to impose on its member States. Also the questioning of the right of conscientious objection was denounced.
Groups in Germany and Austria, among others, expressed their opposition to the text and asked their MPS to vote no.
A small demonstration outside the European Parliament building was held by pro-life groups while the motion was being voted.
— Life Institute (@lifeinstitute) June 24, 2021
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