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MEPs vote to urge EU to enshrine abortion right

July 7, 2022

The European Parliament voted to make abortion a fundamental right in the 27-nation bloc. The vote is a reaction to the US Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Activists demonstrate in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin for the right to an abortion
The US Supreme Court move prompted protests in Europe, including BerlinImage: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The European Parliament endorsed a resolution which calls for adding "everyone has the right to safe and legal abortion" into the charter of fundamental rights within the EU.

On Thursday, 324 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in favor of the resolution, with 155 voting against and 38 absent from the assembly in Strasbourg, France.

Helene Fritzon, a Swedish MEP from the Socialists and Democrats parliamentary group, said abortion was "not a question of politics, opinions or religion. It is, and always must remain, a person's free choice."

Why is European Parliament moving to support abortion access?

The text of the resolution condemned the decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn the 1973 court ruling that gave women the right to a safe and legal abortion, known as Roe v. Wade.

In part, the resolution expresses "firm solidarity with and support for women and girls in the US, as well as to those involved in both the provision of and advocacy for the right and access to legal and safe abortion care in such challenging circumstances."

When the debate on the resolution opened Monday, European Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli said what had occurred in the United States was "a reminder that hard-won rights cannot be taken as a given, anywhere."

US reacts to reversal of Roe v. Wade

The European Union "should push forward, not backwards," she said.

"Backsliding is not an option for a continent that aims for winning the future," she added.

Abortion not legal in all EU states

The MEPs also called on their counterparts in the US to protect the right to abortion at the federal level.

The vote Thursday was nonbinding, as all 27 EU member states need to approve changes to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Only Malta has a total outright ban on abortions within the European Union.

Poland has restrictions in place that make it only possible to obtain a safe and legal abortion in cases of rape, incest or when the pregnant person's life is in danger.

ar/dj (AFP, dpa)