Brussels, 11th October 2016 // European Youth advocates welcome the decision by the Polish parliament last week to dismiss the “Stop Abortion” bill , but stress that the European Parliament needs to do more to monitor legislative developments and increasing restrictions to sexual and reproductive rights and services across Europe.
Recent developments in Poland have served to highlight the precarious state of women’s health and rights in Europe with rising political support for increased restrictions to women’s reproductive health; such as access to contraceptive and abortion services.
Driven by their commitment to human rights and concerns over increased restrictions to reproductive health and services; youth advocates from Poland, Spain, Croatia, Romania the Netherlands and the United Kingdom will be meeting with MEPs and policy-makers on Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th October to demand a stronger European parliamentary response to increasingly regressive legislation in Europe.
Their action builds on the recent mobilization of thousands of Polish women, men, girls and boys, supported by solidarity movements throughout Europe; who have raised their voices in opposition to Poland’s plans to further restrict the law on abortion. Their actions influenced the Polish Parliament’s decision to dismiss the “Stop the Abortion” bill; however the threats to fundamental reproductive rights remain with the development of new legislative proposals which seek to further restrict access to essential services.
Following the anti-abortion campaign in Poland, anti-choice movements in neighbouring countries; Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Croatia have called for increased restrictions on women’s health and rights. Evidence shows that restricting access to safe abortion only forces girls and women to resort to private, illegal or unsafe services, which pose a serious risk to their health and lives.
Belgian Socialist MEP Maria Arena comment: Denying women access to abortion
is denying them access to health, as there could be a risk of death if access to abortion is denied."
Marta Szostak, ASTRA Network Coordinator comments: “For a few years we are now observing various steps, sometimes very small, sometimes very drastic, to limit women’s reproductive rights and influence their reproductive health choices throughout Europe. Already this year we have worked tirelessly to combat further restrictions to abortion access in Poland, mobilising thousands to challenge the Polish Governments regressive stance on sexual reproductive health and rights.
Despite recent success with the “Stop the Abortion” bill being dismissed from Parliament, we count on solidarity and support from our colleagues in Europe, and politicians and representatives within the European Parliament, to do more to uphold fundamental reproductive rights, such as access to contraceptives and abortion throughout the European Union”
During their meetings with Members of the European Parliament on Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th October the youth advocates will discuss and share their concerns and suggestions for what the European Parliament could do to safeguard young people’s and women’s rights and will call for;
- Increased Access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education
- Fulfilment of access to safe and legal abortion services for all women and girls without stigmatization, discrimination, intimidation or victimisation of women and girls requiring these services;
- Increased funding for the development of youth-friendly sexual and reproductive services
- Implement a funding stream for the monitoring of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in European Member States
- Relevant monitoring of number and conditions of illegal abortions;
Swedish GUE/NGL group MEP Malin Björk comment: "History has shown that we can never take women's rights for granted. When rights are threatened somewhere, they are threatened for all of us. We are in this together."
Marta Szostak, ASTRA Network Coordinator comments; "International support, especially the one coming from European groups working on reproductive rights and youth groups, has proven to be a major source for mobilization and inspiration for Polish women and girls. European Parliamentarians must do their part in upholding fundamental human rights and European values in demanding and upholding universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights throughout Europe".
Coalition of CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, You Act, ASTRA Youth and ASTRA Network