European Parliament rejects pro-abortion report
Portugese MEP Edite Estrela's report on sexual and reproductive health and rights was today rejected in the European Parliament.
A total of 351 MEPs voted in favour of sending the report back into committee.
Although it contained many sections that went relatively unremarked on, such as provisions for paternity leave and condemnation of female genital mutilation, many expressed ire towards the Estrela report because of its aggressive pro-abortion stance.
Rather than leaving abortion as an issue to be dealt with by individual EU member states, it went much further in declaring abortion to be a human right.
Controversially, it called for compulsory sex education at primary school level and challenged the right of doctors to refuse to perform an abortion because of conscientious objection.
There was strong opposition to the report, with the 'Estrela No – Respect Subsidiarity' group attracting over 4,300 fans on Facebook in just 72 hours.
The group contacted MEPs ahead of the vote and around 200 people from across the EU gathered outside the Parliament as the debate was taking place, many waving "Estrela No" posters.
The information advocacy network 'European Dignity Watch' believe this report was a specific counter attack to the 'One of Us' citizens' initiative, which seeks to advance the enforcement of a recent European Court of Human Rights decision that the embryo is the beginning of a human life.
Implementing this would mean that the EU would not provide any funds to embryonic stem cell research, IVF treatments that involve the destruction of embryos, or abortion providers of any kind.
The petition at the centre of this initiative has currently reached 1.89 million signatures from across Europe.
Sophia Kuby, head of EDW, said the voices of all those citizens who have previously signed the petition were "heard and represented" in the European Parliament vote this week.
The pro-life group Precious Life praised MEPs Diane Dodds of the Democratic Unionist Party and Jim Nicholson of the Ulster Unionist Party for their votes to send the Estrela report back to committee.
The Chief Executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, John Smeaton, said: "The Estrela report represents one of the most concerted recent attempts to get the European Parliament to exceed its competence and try to impose abortion on European Union member-states.
"Today's rejection of the Estrela report proves that peaceful and prayerful grassroots lobbying by pro-lifers can have a real positive impact in the political arena."