Voting on a non-binding resolution calling for abortion to be made legal across the EU “as a human rights and public health” concern was postponed by MEPs this afternoon, with a majority voting to send it back to the European Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee.
The report, which was drafted by Portuguese Socialist MEP Edite Estrela, had fuelled intense lobbying from anti-abortion groups, particularly over the human rights argument and on its calls to ensure that conscientious objection to providing abortion should be monitored to ensure that it does not limit access to safe abortions.
But MEPs ultimately chose to postpone a vote on the issues at hand: 351 MEPs voted in favour of referring the resolution back to committee, while 319 voted against. The vote was largely divided along ideological lines: centre-right and right-wing political groupings were responsible for the vote.
Ms Estrela was booed by fellow MEPs as she addressed parliament ahead of the vote, minutes after Burmese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi collected the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought she had been awarded in 1990, when she was under house arrest.
The MEP took this reaction in stride, stating that she would have hoped that Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech would have served as an example for colleagues that were so intolerant of the opinions of others.
But ultimately, her appeal for MEPs to “take a stand” and declare that sexual and reproductive rights were human rights that should not be denied to anyone proved unsuccessful, at least for the time being.
Maltese MEPs Joseph Cuschieri and Roberta Metsola had both told The Malta Independent that they – and other Maltese MEPs – were against the arguments made in Ms Estrela’s report.