If one seriously believes in the EU as a global player for freedom, justice and human rights, one must also stand up for abortion rights in the EU. To duck with reference to the principle of subsidiarity does not hold RFSU believes. Courage, clarity and knowledge are now required more than ever.
One of the most common arguments against the EU having a role to play in matters of the right to abortion, sex education or contraception is that these are areas that fall within the scope of national law. Nor does RFSU believe that the EU should have common internal legislation. But in discussions, the EU's role as a global player often falls away. The EU, in the sense of all Member States and institutions, is the world's largest player in development cooperation.
The EU is also Sweden's voice in global negotiations. By April, the EU would have negotiated sexual and reproductive rights under the UN Population Commission, but chose not to act jointly due to differing positions on abortion.
Aid issues are seldom at the top of the agenda in election debates, but the composition of the European Parliament affects the EU's external role. To fully analyze how the election result will affect the EU as a global player, it remains to be seen what the distribution within the Foreign Affairs and Aid Committees will look like. But we can already see that right-wing extremist parties in Europe have made progress and that they are often negative about funding initiatives that lift people out of poverty outside the EU's and about the rights of LGBT people and women, including the right to freedom. abortion.
In England, the xenophobic party, UKIP, has made a record election. In France, the Front National has even been voted the largest party by the French. In Sweden, the Sweden Democrats have sailed up as the 5th largest party with their 9,8% of the vote. Something that gives the Sweden Democrats 2 seats in the European Parliament.
Even within the conservative group EPP, there are many who oppose women's freedom of choice regarding abortion. Although the EPP has lost many seats, it continues to be the largest party group.
It is too early to say what this will mean for the next five years in the European Parliament. This depends, among other things, on how the right-wing extremist and xenophobic parties can organize themselves. One thing is clear, however, and that is that the established parties must stand up for development cooperation and issues of sexual and reproductive rights in a completely different way than before.
Everyone who wants to work for the goal of improved health is finding it increasingly difficult to stand up for the right to choose a safe abortion. Maternal mortality is gratifyingly declining globally thanks to increased investment in maternal health. But when deaths related to an unsafe abortion do not decrease at the same rate, this cause constitutes an increasing proportion of maternal mortality. Without access to safe abortions, we will continue to see women bleed.
Almost all abortion-related deaths occur in poor countries, with the highest number in Africa, followed by Asia and Latin America. Unsafe abortions are one of the leading causes of maternal mortality worldwide. Every year, 47 women die from unsafe abortions. In addition to all these deaths, we must not forget the five million women who are cared for each year for the treatment of abortion-related complications, such as bleeding and sepsis. Women are injured or die because they have been forced to have a dangerous, dirty and illegal abortion. They are women who have not been given the freedom and the right to decide over their bodies and lives.
The EU needs clear voices from Member States and in Parliament for a factual discussion on the need for access to safe abortions in poor countries.
2014 is the first year in a new seven-year budget period for the EU. Then strategies and plans for all EU aid programs will be revised. In the strategic dialogue that has taken place in the programming for the budget period 2014-2020, the lack of a gender perspective has been pointed out in a number of different contexts by the European Parliament, the Member States and civil society. Among other things, RFSU, together with other organizations in CONCORD's gender equality working group, has drawn attention to the lack of a gender perspective in the draft thematic program Global Public Goods and Challenges. Competent and influential parliamentarians are needed to hold the Commission accountable for past commitments in, for example, the EU Gender Action Plan.
New and old Swedish parliamentarians must prepare to argue for women's right to choose abortion. Many are unprepared for the resistance and unfamiliar debaters in the field. Human rights are the basis of EU existence and this includes sexual and reproductive rights.
Maria Andersson, Secretary General of RFSU
Kristina Ljungros, Chairman of RFSU