The European Secularist Network welcomes the adoption of the resolution “on global threats to abortion rights: the possible overturning of abortion rights in the US by the Supreme Court” by the European Parliament on 9 June 2022.

regressions of women’s rights

 A large majority of MEPs strongly condemn “the backsliding in women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) taking place globally, including in the US and in some EU Member States”, and rightly point out that “SRHR are fundamental human rights which should be protected and enhanced and cannot in any way be watered down or withdrawn”.

MEPs call on “Member States to decriminalise abortion and to remove and combat obstacles to safe and legal abortion and access to sexual and reproductive health care and services”.

Misuse of “conscience clause”

The Parliament also condemns the misuse of the “conscience clause” by doctors or entire institutions, which results in the denial of abortion care on religious or conscience grounds and threatens the lives and rights of women. This “clause is also often invoked in situations where a delay in care could endanger the life or health of the patient.”

erroneous invocation of international law

Indeed, contrary to what COMECE states, the right to abortion is a fundamental right recognised in international law. We have already responded to a statement by representatives of the European Bishops’ Conference on this issue.

Once again, COMECE deliberately chooses to ignore these developments which have led to the recognition of sexual and reproductive rights in international law. Furthermore, on the issue of conscientious objection, COMECE invokes international law selectively. Conscientious objection is only recognised in international law in the field of military service – as in the case cited by COMECE itself. It has never been recognised in any other situation. On the contrary, in two recent decisions, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a state could refuse to allow two people who refused to perform abortions to be employed as midwives.

for secularism in europe

The European Secularist Network reaffirms its commitment to a secular Europe, where politics is separated from religion and the rules of law are not inspired by religious doctrine, but aim at the effective realisation of the fundamental rights of all.