A new report that presents abortion as a ‘human right’ and would undermine conscientious objection was approved by the European Parliament last week. Every Irish MEP voted in favour of it. The report does not have the force of law behind it, but it is all part of an effort to shift the EU in an ever more pro-abortion direction, to make a ‘right’ to abortion a ‘European value’.
The Matić report is a long document covering sexual health and so-called “reproductive rights”, which include abortion, sterilisation, prenatal screening, etc. It is named after the Croatian MEP Predrag Fred Matić, from the Socialists and Democrats Group, who acted as a Rapporteur.
The report falsely presents abortion as a right but no international treaty recognises a “right to abortion” and the European Court of Human Rights has held that a woman’s right to privacy does not imply a right to abortion.
The resolution approved by the European Parliament last week calls for the removal of all barriers to access abortion, and these barriers would include conscientious objection of healthcare professionals.
It deceitfully claims that the denial of abortion on grounds of religion or conscience “endangers women’s lives and rights” and it also “hinders access to prenatal screening”. We know that prenatal screening is often used to select and abort children carrying a disability, such as Down Syndrome.
The typical language and concepts of the most radical activists appears in the Matić report. Conscientious objection, which is recognised and protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, is presented in the Matić report as “refusal of medical care”.
Another example of its radical ideology is in the use of ambiguous expressions such as “pregnant people” or “pregnant person”, rather than “pregnant women”. This attempt to employ so-called “inclusive language” as a matter of fact erases women and their absolutely unique role in bringing a child into the world.
Critics of this extremely ideological document have highlighted that it is an affront the sovereignty of the EU Member States. The fields of health and education belong to the Member States and this document overreaches the competences of the European Union.
Several European bodies have acknowledged that the power to legislate on abortion and health matters lie with the different States. The European Union cannot impose the “right to abortion” on its members and this is particularly significant as Malta, for instance, is an EU state and has resisted international pressure to liberalise its abortion laws so far.
The Matić report has no binding legal value but such resolutions are often used by member states to introduce and legitimise changes in their national legislation. They are also used by activists to strengthen their positions in court cases or in political campaigns. While lacking legal authority, such documents can still have a profound impact in national and international parliaments and courts. A similar report was rejected in 2013.
This time it has found support from all the left parties in the EU parliament, but also from significant sectors of the centrist European Popular Party, of which Fine Gael is a member, and from the Renew group, which includes Fianna Fail.
Bishop Kevin Doran has commented on Twitter: “Very disappointing to see the every Irish MEP voted today against the right to freedom of conscience which is recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in favour of the non-existent human right to abortion. God bless our healthcare professionals.”
On the same day when the Matić report was approved, an attempt to discredit pro-life organisations was rejected. To mark the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development in Nairobi, a resolution was approved by the EU parliament.
An amendment to this resolution, presented by the Left Group but rejected by the parliament, expressed concern that important international pro-life organisations were included in the EU transparency register and “authorised to work openly with public institutions for the decline of women’s rights, and sexual and reproductive health rights”.