July 8, 2022

European bishops' group criticizes EU Parliament resolution on abortion

ROME (CNS) -- A resolution that passed the European Parliament criticizing the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on abortion and calling for inclusion in the Charter of the European Union of a universal right to abortion is part of a "radical political" agenda that threatens basic human rights and the cohesion of the union, said the general secretary of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union.

Father Manuel Barrios Prieto, the general secretary, issued his statement July 8, the day after European parliamentarians passed a nonbinding resolution 324-155 to decry the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization June 24 and to propose a new article to be added to the EU Charter saying, "Everyone has the right to safe and legal abortion."

"We regret yesterday's adoption of this resolution by the European Parliament, which paves the way for a deviation from universally recognized human rights and misrepresents the tragedy of abortion for mothers in difficulties," Father Barrios said, speaking on behalf of the commission.

"We must work for more unity among Europeans, not create higher ideological barriers and polarization," he said. And "we must support pregnant mothers and accompany them to overcome their difficulties in problematic situations."

Pushing for a "right to abortion" addition to the EU Charter, he said, would violate the rights of individual EU member countries to write and enforce their own laws. Of the EU members, only Malta has a complete ban on abortion. In Poland, abortion is illegal except to save the life or health of the mother. Other countries, such as Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia, restrict abortion to early in a pregnancy.

"Promoting radical political agendas endangers fundamental rights, including freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and damages social cohesion," Father Barrios said.

The EU parliament motion criticized the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming "its harmful consequences will be experienced most acutely by individuals in vulnerable situations," women in poverty and minorities.

"Sexual and reproductive health and rights," the resolution said, include "safe and legal abortion care."

"Criminalizing, delaying and denying access" to abortion "constitutes a form of violence against women and girls," it said, adding that "these restrictions and bans do not reduce the number of abortions, but only force people to travel long distances or to resort to unsafe abortions."

The U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs decision, it said, "could embolden the anti-abortion movement in the European Union" where "backsliding on the right to access safe and legal abortion is a grave concern."

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