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Anna Kubacka: 'Their body, their choice' - EP tries to interfere with internal US legislation

Published: 14.10.2021

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· During the current plenary session, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on a Texas state law restricting the practice of abortion.

· MEPs chose to condemn Texas lawmakers and made a number of demands on the US authorities, who they expect to block legal changes restricting the right to kill the unborn.

· In early September, Texas passed a law prohibiting abortion after detecting a child's heartbeat. It is the first law in the United States that protects the lives of unborn children to such an extent.

· This act is part of a trend of legal changes in favour of the unborn child already adopted in more than a dozen other states, but which will only be able to enter into force if the Roe v. Wade ruling is overturned.

· It is beyond the competence of the EU to comment on the health policy of Member States and to attempt to interfere in the shaping of legislation in this area. Such action is all the more unacceptable in relation to third countries.

The EP competencies exceeded again

The European Parliament regularly ignores the limitations that have been imposed on the Union by a joint decision of the EU Member States. The EP speaks out and makes recommendations and demands in areas reserved for Member States, such as family law or health policy. In its resolution of 7 October 2021 on the anti-abortion law in Texas (United States) (2021/2910(RSP))[1], it went even further and decided to formulate demands and instructions to a third country, denouncing legislation adopted by a US state and demanding an immediate reaction from the US authorities in order to adopt a law in line with the ideological line of the European Union.

This time, the European Union has overstepped its authority, exposing itself - and all the Member States - to a loss of institutional credibility and political capital, and to a deterioration in relations with a strategic partner, i.e. the United States, Trying to illegally interfere in the internal legislation of a third country or to impose one’s own policies on it in the name of ideological politics is an extremely irresponsible act.

What do MEPs know about international law?

The adopted resolution is the EU's response to the law adopted by Texas at the beginning of September, excluding the possibility of an abortion after detecting the heartbeat of an unborn child. The very fact of adopting a new law raises opposition from the European Parliament, which - despite the lack of such provisions in international law - strongly argues that abortion is a human right. In its resolution the EP even resorts to blackmail and in letter C points out that the EU-US partnership is 'rooted in our common values', in which the EP arbitrarily includes free access to abortion.

The EP goes one step further and repeatedly claims, contrary to the facts, that abortion is a human right. Meanwhile, no binding act of international law has ever confirmed such a law. In the absence of any legal basis to support its thesis, the EP goes so far as to use infantile slogans in its resolution (point 15 of the resolution: 'to organise a witch-hunt in the 21st century' - in the context of punishing the provision of illegal abortion services, and especially letter G of the resolution: 'their body, their choice'), to which it attempts to give the status of principles and, worse still, to numerous lies:

  1. The EP claims, in letter E of the resolution, that Goals 3.7 and 5.6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in respect of which all Member States have taken on obligations and commitments to respect and promote these goals, concern 'reproductive and sexual rights and health' - noting that the term 'sexual rights' is most often taken to mean free access to abortion.
    In fact, Goal 3.7 refers only to 'sexual reproductive health services' and Goal 5.6 refers to 'access to sexual and reproductive health care and the exercise of reproductive rights'. The term 'sexual rights' does not appear in the UN Sustainable Development Goals
    [2].
  2. The EP claims, in letter E of the resolution that 'sexual and reproductive health and rights are among the fundamental human rights and are protected as human rights under international and European human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the CEDAW and the European Convention on Human Rights'.

However, in both of the first two pieces of international law mentioned by the EP, 'sexual and reproductive health and rights' (SRHR) or even 'sexual and reproductive health' (SRH) do not feature. Moreover, the US has never ratified the international pact on economic, social and cultural rights, so it is not bound by its provisions.

Also the CEDAW Convention (which, by the way, also does not contain the term SRHR, but only mentions in Article 12 'family planning services'[3]) has never been ratified by the United States, so it is nonsense to consider US action in relation to its provisions. Similarly, the signatories of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights are the member states of the Council of Europe, to which the US - for obvious reasons - does not belong. This does not change the fact that the latter convention also uses the terms SRHR or SRH. Furthermore, the Convention states in Article 2 that everyone's 'right to life shall be protected' and this article is not encumbered with any provision limiting protection (e.g. 'from birth'), which contradicts the possibility of deriving the right to abortion from the provisions of this Convention.

  1. In letter J of the resolution, the EP refers to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, again forgetting that the US, not being a member of the EU, is not bound by the Charter.
  2. The EP also refers, for example, to the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994 and its Programme of Action, while regretting, inter alia, in letter N of the resolution, that the Texas anti-abortion law 'will certainly discourage the provision of such health services'. Meanwhile, the final decisions of the said conference indicated that 'under no circumstances should abortion be promoted as one of the methods of family planning. All governmental and non-governmental organisations are called upon to confront the health consequences of unsafe abortion for the health of women. Abortion must be prevented to eliminate the need for abortion. Women with unwanted pregnancies should have access to information and compassionate counselling (...)' (point 8.25).

Protection of life unwelcome

However, what worries the EP most is the legislative trend, already evident for some time in the US, to introduce greater protection of unborn life. The EP refers to this in its resolution on several occasions, and in paragraph 17 writes explicitly that it is 'deeply concerned about the impact of the Texas bill on other US states which (...) will want to ban abortion nationwide, as evidenced by the example of Florida'. Moreover, in addition to the Texas legislature, more than a dozen other states have decided to pass "pro-life" laws, but their validity is dependent on the Supreme Court overturning the Roe v. Wade ruling. The entire pro-abortion law currently in force in the US is based on this judgement, and past events and the current composition of the US Supreme Court indicate that overturning the controversial ruling is very possible.

This is why the EP is going as far as to issue numerous 'calls' to both the government of Texas (point 2 of the resolution - calling for the 'speedy repeal' of the law), President Biden (point 8 - calling for access to legal abortion and 'encouragement' for it to be universally available) and the US government (point 9 - calling for access to legal abortion and 'encouragement' for it to be universally available), putting EU-US relations at serious risk, as well as the US government (point 9 - calling "for full decriminalisation of abortion", point 10 - calling for federal protection for universal access to abortion), or even the US Congress (point 11 - calling for federal legal protection for access to abortion).

A blow to EU-US relations?

The unlawful and inevitably damaging to the mutual relations between the Union and an independent, sovereign state such as the United States call is completed by equally irrational calls addressed to EU Member States. According to the EP (paragraph 26 of the resolution), the Member States should sabotage the American legal order by 'offering all possible support, including financial one' to relevant organisations working in the US in favour of SRHR (specifically understood as free access to abortion). Member States are also to 'provide shelter for all healthcare professionals who may be at risk of harassment, including through the use of legal means, in connection with their legitimate work'. The last demand in particular seems to have no other explanation than the EP's paranoid fear of legislation protecting human life before birth, which MEPs interpret as a law that threatens health workers.

In its resolution on the anti-abortion state law in Texas, adopted on 7 October, not only does the EP repeatedly outright lie about abortion being a human right, but it also irresponsibly oversteps its authority in an extreme way. This resolution is an overstepping of its mandate by an EU body and illegally interferes in the internal affairs of a third country. Such an action undermines the political capital of the entire Union and may seriously damage relations with strategic partners.

 

Anna Kubacka - analyst of Ordo Iuris Center for Legislative Studies

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