The European Parliament voted Thursday in favor of a report describing abortion as “essential healthcare” and seeking to redefine conscientious objection as a “denial of medical care.”
Members of the European Parliament, the EU’s law-making body, voted on June 24 by 378 votes in favor, 255 against and 42 abstentions, to adopt the text, known as the Matić Report, at a plenary session in Brussels, Belgium.
The report also declares that violations of “sexual and reproductive health and rights” are “a form of violence against women and girls.”
Parliamentarians had earlier rejected two attempts to block the controversial report.
Another motion for a resolution by the ECR Group, together with members of Hungary’s Fidesz party, gained 267 votes in favor, but 402 against.
Catholic leaders and pro-life groups had urged the European Parliament to reject the report, presented by the Croatian politician Predrag Fred Matić and debated on June 23, the day before the vote.
Speaking in the debate, Matić said: “Tomorrow is a great day for Europe and the entire progressive world. Tomorrow we decide on positioning Europe as a community that chooses to live in the 21st or the 17th century. Don’t let history remember us as the latter ones.”
The Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI), based in Washington, D.C., described the report as “extreme” and “radical.”
The Secretariat of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) expressed alarm at the text, saying that that it was “ethically untenable” to classify abortion as an “essential” health service.
Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, also criticized the report.
“Abortion is always a violation of the fundamental human right to life, a violation even more abhorrent because it concerns the life of the weakest and completely defenseless human being. It is, therefore, a manifestation of the most unjust discrimination,” he said.
The Matić Report, officially known as the “Report on the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women’s health,” was adopted by the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality on May 11.
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