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PES Women denounces the hijacking of the report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights by the Conservatives

zita_gurmai_0_0_0.pngToday, the vote in the European Parliament on the draft report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), prepared by Edite Estrela, S&D Portuguese MEP and PES Women executive member, has failed to be adopted and instead an alternative weak resolution put forward by the EPP and ECR was carried. 

PES Women President, Zita Gurmai, strongly denounces this despicable manoeuvre against women’s SRHR from the Right and Extreme-Right. Since this report has been tabled by Edite Estrela, fallacious, misleading and populist campaign and arguments have been presented by the EPP and ECR in order to prevent any progress on women’s SRHR.

She stated: "Conservative forces across Europe show their true colours on International Human Rights Day by voting against the SRHR Report prepared by Edite Estrela; this is worrying, disappointing and hypocritical! Europe has long been an example for other regions in the world when it comes to women’s rights but today this is not longer the case and we witness the growing anti-choice and anti-women movements from world affecting the EU. We thought that our gains in terms of women’s rights could not be jeopardized. Today’s result reminds us those women’s rights are never guaranteed and that our feminist battles have never been so important."

With this alternative report, EPP and ECR intend to recall that SRHR should remain a competence of the Member States. But Estrela’s report has never questioned this competence. Her report only aimed at putting forward high common standards for all Member States, in order to ensure that all European women share the same rights when it comes to contraception, maternity, health or sexuality.

On the eve of the European elections, this shameful and disappointing action form the Conservatives clearly demonstrates the difference in value between the Right and the Left. Our political family has once again shown being the front runner on this issue respecting women’s rights and women’s freedom.

Zita Gurmai recalled: “unlike the right and far-right, the Socialists and Social-Democrats believe in progress and equality; we believe that women have an inalienable right to choose and to freely decide for themselves and their bodies; we believe that women and men should have easy and free access to sexual education, medical support, prevention, contraception, morning after pill and abortion and that medical treatments and support should be affordable for all women and men, whatever their ages, origins or social status are. In May 2014, the European citizens will have the chance to say in which conception of women’s rights they believe.”

Edite Estrela added: “Today’s vote, while we are celebrating International Human Rights Day, is a painful defeat for women’s rights. This proves that the reactionary backlash on gender equality that the S&D Group and PES Women have been denouncing for years is well and truly existent. But this is a fight and we, as Progressives, as Socialists, as feminists, should not give up but keep uniting our forces to move women’s SRHR forward.”

Estrela’s report provided a very comprehensive analysis of SRHR and covers all aspects, including the need to provide sexuality education for girls and boys, to protect pregnancy and childbirth by fighting maternal mortality as well as the need to protect contraception and abortion. This report also acknowledged the need to better collect data in each Member State to know the situation faced by women regarding SRHR. Finally, it also took into consideration gender-based violence related to SRHR as well as STI prevention and treatment, including HIV/AIDS.

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