EU Bishops: 'No such thing as a right to abortion'

As the European Parliament prepares to discuss a second resolution reaffirming its support to the US 1973 ruling Roe v. Wade, which was recently overturned, the Catholic Bishops of the EU insist that abortion is not a fundamental human right.

By Lisa Zengarini

The President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, has reaffirmed the concerns of the Catholic Church for the way the issue of abortion is treated at the EU level.

Following the US Supreme Court’s ruling overtuning the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, the European Parliament is expected next week to reiterate its call for safe access to abortion, and its condemnation of what it considers a “backsliding in women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in the US.” 

According to a statement released on Friday, MEPs are set to reaffirm their support for both the 1973 provision of, and advocacy for, the right and access to legal and safe abortion care in a debate on Monday afternoon, and a resolution on Thursday, 7 July.

Respect for every human being 'a pillar of EU'

During a meeting with the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, earlier this week, Cardinal Hollerich insisted that the attempt to see abortion as a fundamental right, “not only goes against the respect of the dignity of every human being, which is one of the pillars of the EU, but it will also gravely endanger the right to freedom of religion, of thought and conscience and the possibility of exercising conscientious objection.”

Resolution of June 9

COMECE already expressed its concerns on 8 June, ahead of the discussion in the European Parliament of a resolution titled “Global threats to abortion rights: the possible overturn of abortion rights in the US by the Supreme Court," which called for the Roe v. Wade ruling to be upheld. The resolution was approved the next day with 364 votes in favour, 154 against, and 37 abstentions.

Unacceptable interference 

In a strongly-worded statement, the General Secretary of COMECE, Fr Manuel Barrios Prieto, said the discussion was an “unacceptable interference in the democratic jurisdictional decisions of a sovereign state”, which is also not a Member State of the EU, and that the adoption of a resolution endorsing this interference would “only discredit” the European institutions.

He further noted that “from a legal perspective, there is no recognized right to abortion in European or International Law”, and, therefore, “no State can be obliged to legalize abortion, or to facilitate it, or be instrumental to perform it.”

The General Secretary of COMECE insisted that any “attempt to introduce a supposed right to abortion in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union would be a law ‘devoid of an ethical foundation and destined to be a cause of perpetual conflict among the citizens of the EU.”

Right to conscientious objection

The European Bishops also noted with concern the “negation of the fundamental right to conscientious objection, which is an emanation of freedom of conscience” as the rights of health institutions to refuse to provide certain services, including abortion, was weakened, or even denied.

Helping women in distress

COMECE finally highlighted the need to assist and help support women who are in a difficult or a conflict situation because of their pregnancy.

“Women in distress should not be left alone, nor can the right to life of the unborn child be ignored. They both must receive all necessary help and assistance,” the statement said.

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02 July 2022, 12:46