Tuesday, June 22, 2021
The European Parliament will vote on the 24th of June 2021 on the “Situation of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the EU, in the Frame of Women’s Health” Report (rapporteur: Predrag Fred Matić). The report focuses on the so-called sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), which is a blanket term that is often used to include different controversial policy themes: sexual education, gender ideology, abortion, obstetrics. However, it has been specifically and increasingly used to mean access to and funding of abortion, something that we see as problematic.
Taking note of some good points in the Matić report, nevertheless, it promotes many policies that are not congruent with the EU law and competence. Furthermore, it creates a precedent which can undermine fundamental human rights.
The European Parliament is overstepping its competence since most of the points raised by this report fall under health policy, which, according to the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, are exclusive competences of the Member States.
The Member States are vilified in this report regarding the management of their health systems. This approach ignores the principle of subsidiarity and disregards the national competence.
The report calls for the use of EU funds to “guarantee universal access to SRHR”. But EU funds should not be used to promote policies that fall outside of EU competence.
The Matić report dismisses the conscience clause of the doctors and calls on Member States to “implement effective regulatory and enforcement measures that ensure that the conscience clause” is removed from national law. Such recommendation is undermining the freedom of conscience and choice of the medical professionals who are entitled to refuse taking part or performing procedures that go against the ethics of medicine or against their personal belief. This is explicitly mentioned in Resolution 1763 (2010)- The Right to Conscientious Objection in Lawful Medical Care of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
ECPM believes in the protection of life from conception to natural death. We underscore Articles 1 & 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU which clearly state that human dignity and the right to life are the foundation of all our rights and freedoms. Therefore, while we respect the sensitivity of specific situations, we believe that the notion of self-determination cannot simply replace the principle of the right to life. An ideologically driven EP report is the wrong way to deal with such sensitive and personal issues.
The Matić report mentions practices that are condemned across the world like female genital mutilation, violence against women and lack of access to basic sanitation. Although these are important matters concerning the health of women, the report does not give these topics the same attention as it does to abortion and other controversial issues. Therefore, despite these positive aspects, the report should be rejected as a whole.
Abortion, gender identity theory, comprehensive sexuality education curricula, contraception etc. are sensitive, controversial issues which are prescribed by international or European law and on which there is no consensus. They are national health policy matters over which Member States have exclusive jurisdiction. As a result, the Matić report violates the principle of subsidiarity and falls outside the European Parliament’s competence. The report would have done a much better service to the EU and global health if it had remained within the competence of the EU in these matters.
For all these reasons, we are voting against this report and we call on all the members of the European Parliament to do the same!
MEP Peter van Dalen
MEP Helmut Geuking
MEP Bert Jan Ruissen
MEP Cristian Terheş
 ECPM published an article on its website outlining all the problematic parts of this report: https://ecpm.info/news/controversial-matic-report-seeks-to-override-national-competence-and-limit-freedom-of-conscience.html