24 October, Brussels – On Tuesday, the plenary sitting of the European Parliament saw a heated debate around the draft report on the Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) (1) put forward by the rapporteur Edite Estrela MEP (PT, S&D) from the Women and Gender Equity Committee (FEMM).
Much supported by the committee itself, the text supports the advancement of SRHR in Europe and globally, which would help tackle health inequalities, increase gender equality and social justice for all, including young people, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS, and minority groups.
Despite an initial ruling from the Chair against postponement, however following significant interruptions in the room and points of order, the report was voted to be referred back to the Committee for “further deliberation” (for: 351, against: 319, abstention: 18). Both the S&D rapporteur Ms Estrela MEP and the GUE/NGL chair of the FEMM Committee Mr Gustafsson MEP expressed their deep disappointment (2).
The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) equally regrets the developments, as progress on SRHR and commitment to gender equality are widely considered the underlying conditions for good public health outcomes in Europe and beyond. In Europe today, millions of people do not have access to SRHR, prevention is widely unavailable or too costly, and it is those of lower socio-economic background, the Roma and other discriminated groups who bear the poor health and social consequences of this.
“Information and education, accessible preventive SRHR services, available and affordable for all as well as fighting discrimination and gender-based violence have long been embedded into the work of the European Parliament so yesterday’s disorder is very disappointing,” said Monika Kosinska, EPHA Secretary General. "This is playing a childish and irresponsible political game with basic issues of human dignity and equality. We hope this passes to plenary without further delay,” she added.
[Press release] European Parliament sputters and stalls on women’s rights (pdf)
1. Edite Estrela MEP draft report on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of 26 September 2013
2. S&D Press Release "Conservatives want to set women’s rights back 30 years."
Javier Delgado Rivera, EPHA Communications Coordinator at email@example.com +32(0) 2 230 3076