By Lisa Zengarini
As European Parliament begins on Wednesday its discussion of the so-called ‘Matić Report’ on women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, Polish bishops have expressed in strong terms their opposition to the document, saying it “unfairly discriminates” against unborn children.
The COMECE Position Paper
The resolution, named after Croatian MEP Predrag Fred Matić, refers to abortion as an “essential health service” and a “human right” and has spurred criticism from the European bishops. In a Position Paper released last week, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) pointed out that the document is “one-sided”, denies “the fundamental right to conscientious objection” and violates the EU principle of subsidiarity. This view has been subsequently echoed by a number of European bishops.
Abortion is always a violation of the fundamental human right to life
The president of the Polish bishops’ Conference too has voiced strong criticism: “Abortion is always a violation of the fundamental human right to life and is all the more repugnant as it affects the lives of the weakest and most vulnerable. It is therefore a manifestation of the most unjust discrimination”, the Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki Poznań says in a statement. He therefore urges all members of the European Parliament to vote against the proposal, emphasizing that on “fundamental human rights and non-negotiable values” there can be “no compromise”.
A violation of the principle of subsidiarity in EU
Echoing COMECE’s arguments, Archbishop Gądecki further reminds MEPs that EU member States have an exclusive competence on healthcare and therefore ‘Matić Resolution’ violates EU law.
Misinformation on the "right to abortion"
The president of the Polish bishops also calls attention to the “misinformation” underlying the draft document when it speaks of "reproductive and sexual rights", including abortion, as fundamental human rights binding States to implement them.
In fact, he says, "there is no international document on human rights”, including the ones cited by the author of the resolution, that mentions the existence of the “right to abortion”. On the contrary, these international provisions guarantee the right to life against the right to kill. “EU treaties confirm this principle of the inviolable dignity of every human being, his right to life, the prohibition of eugenic practices, as well as the commitment to protect the rights of minors”, the prelate adds.
The right to conscientious objection
Furthermore, Archbishop Gądecki recalls that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights explicitly mentions the right to conscientious objection, including that of healthcare professionals, which is also mentioned in many EU member States’ Constitutions. The resolution – he says - can be therefore considered as an attack against the Charter and these Constitutions.
Abortion cannot be considered as 'essential health service'
The president of the Polish bishops hence reiterates the Church’s concern and dismay over the possibility that abortion may become a “human right”: "The legalization of abortion alone is a distortion of social life and can still less be considered as an 'essential health service', he states.