(BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – C-FAM) Using strongly anti-religious language, the European branch of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has recently issued a document entitled “Why We Need to Talk about Abortion” calling for the legalization of abortion in the European Union (EU). While acknowledging that the member states retain “ultimate responsibility” for abortion legislation, the IPPF-Europe urges the EU Commission and the European Parliamentarians to act “despite this mandate” to “drive the issues forward” and “keep them high on the political agenda.”
The IPPF document praises the European Parliamentarians and the Council of Europe for issuing two non-binding pro-abortion documents in recent years. The document quotes something called the “Van Lancker Report” of the European Parliament, which calls for unrestricted abortion rights in Europe. IPPF also mentions the EU Commission’s support for the conclusions of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Although the Cairo document makes no call for abortion, pro-abortion advocates claim that Cairo’s call for “reproductive health” is synonymous with abortion, something the UN General Assembly never intended or voted for.
Throughout the text, the IPPF text targets the predominantly Catholic countries of Slovakia, Malta, Ireland, Portugal and Poland as specific examples where women are faced with “no other option than forced pregnancy,” unless they want to risk their lives through illegal abortion or to travel abroad to have it. “Unplanned pregnancy” is portrayed as a “shock,” leading to “clear-cut panic.” An aborted life is equated to an exercise of a woman’s right “to choose what to do with their bodies.”
The IPPF document also illustrates that abortion advocates believe that linking the pro-life cause with religion will help promote abortion rights. Slovakia is criticized for allowing doctors “conscientious objection” against performing abortion for religious reasons, IPPF has clearly taken sides in the debate about religious freedom in Europe. The IPPF document also includes a section called “Every abortion has a story” contains stories of women faced with an “unplanned or unwanted pregnancy” in six European countries. One story is of a Slovakian woman who aborts her child and is supposedly castigated by a Catholic priest during Sunday Mass, though there is no substantiation for such a claim. The story ends with her Catholic husband leaving her.
It should be noted that most countries of the European Union have more limitations on abortion than the United States where there is abortion on demand. Most European countries have fairly conservative gestational limits on abortion, and some EU countries ban abortion outright. While the European Institutions have repeatedly said that abortion lies outside their competence and should be left to the individual, this recent IPPF campaign shows that pro-abortion organizations consider the institutions of the EU as useful lobbying targets to put the “right to abortion” on the EU agenda.