A Europe-Wide Right to Abortion: A Vote For Hope

In just a few short weeks, the impact of the US Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade has been profound. Its reverberations were also felt in Europe. Last week, the European Parliament voted in favour of a resolution to defend abortion rights.

The Supreme Court ruling has been profound: funds set up to help women travel to states where it is still legal to have an abortion; abortion providers under extreme pressure from out-of-towners; women stockpiling contraception and deleting period tracker apps in fear that data collected could be used against them; and of course the devastating story of a 10 year old girl, a rape victim who was six weeks pregnant and forced to travel to another state because she was no longer eligible for an abortion in her home state. 

Its reverberations were also felt in Europe. There are well-founded fears that developments on the other side of the Atlantic will embolden far-right and religious groups here in the EU.

In Malta, an American woman who was miscarrying was refused an abortion as the foetus, which according to doctors had zero chance of survival, still had a heartbeat. She had to be evacuated to Spain as any form of abortion is illegal in Malta. Meanwhile in Poland, a bill to legalise abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy was rejected by right-wing MPs on 24 June.

While these are undeniably dark days for reproductive rights, there are some reasons to be hopeful. 

Solidarity protests took place across the continent, with the plight of American women felt everywhere from Brussels and Paris to Berlin and London. France finally moved to make abortion a constitutional right, a proposition from France Insoumise that had previously been rejected. While at the European Parliament MEPs voted in favour of a resolution to defend abortion rights

The resolution calls for the right to abortion to be included in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.  MEPs will submit a proposal to the European Council to amend Article 7, respect for family and private life, by adding that “everyone has the right to safe and legal abortion.” 

The resolution expressed “firm solidarity with and support for women and girls in the US, as well as to those involved in both the provision of and advocacy for the right and access to legal and safe abortion care in such challenging circumstances” and calls for abortion to be protected at a federal level in the US.

As Left MEP Sandra Pereira (PCP, Portugal) says: “Attempts to reverse or prevent abortion are unacceptable. Abortion has to be seen as a public health problem, and as an issue intertwined with the fundamental rights of women.”

Originally published at the website of The Left in the European Parliament