European lawmakers call for abortion as a basic right in the EU

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European Commission President von der Leyen. Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool via REUTERS
European Commission President von der Leyen. Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool via REUTERS
Kenzo Tribouillard
  • EU lawmakers voted to urge the European council to declare abortion as a basic right.
  • 324 members of parliament voted in support of the motion, 155 voted against and 38 abstained.  
  • The vote was in response to the US overturning the nationwide right to abortion in June. 

The European Parliament voted on Thursday to urge the European Union to make abortion a basic right, in reaction to a US ruling overturning it as a nationwide entitlement in America.

MEPs voted 324 in favour, with 155 against and 38 abstentions, of a resolution calling on EU member states to include an article saying "Everyone has the right to safe and legal abortion" in the bloc's charter of fundamental rights.

The text highlighted the chamber's condemnation of the decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that had enshrined the nationwide right to abortion in the United States.

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It 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".

The EU lawmakers urged their US counterparts to protect abortion at a federal level.

While the parliament's vote was non-binding, the EU's charter of fundamental rights is. But to amend it, all 27 member countries need to agree.

That could be problematic as one EU country, Malta, bans abortions entirely. Another, Poland, prohibits the procedure for all cases except in cases of rape, incest or where the mother's life or health is in danger.

Helena Dalli, the EU commissioner for equality, told MEPs when the debate started on Monday that the US ruling was "a reminder that hard-won rights cannot be taken as a given, anywhere".

She said that in Europe, "we should push forward, not backwards. Backsliding is not an option for a continent that aims for winning the future."

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