On July 7, the European Union (EU) parliament condemned the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the U.S., calling for abortion to be enshrined in its own charter on fundamental rights, according to PBS. What makes the EU’s condemnation most interesting is the fact that most nations in the EU have more protections for preborn children in place than were allowed under Roe v. Wade in the United States.
In addition to condemning the Supreme Court decision, the parliament voted 324-155 with 38 absentees to adopt a resolution calling on the U.S. to ensure access to abortion. They also called on Texas to repeal its Heartbeat Act, and called upon states with pro-life laws to become more abortion-friendly. The parliament also called on all EU countries to decriminalize abortion.
Roe and its sister case Doe v. Bolton disallowed states from restricting abortion prior to 24 weeks gestation (six months), though children born as young as 21 weeks are capable of surviving outside the womb. These two Supreme Court rulings, which were handed down on the same day in 1973, allowed abortion through all nine months of pregnancy even for financial reasons. In overturning Roe on June 24, the Supreme Court determined that states have the right to protect preborn children from abortion prior to 24 weeks.
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Member nations of the EU, however, have more strict restrictions on abortion than what Roe allowed. In France, abortion is allowed up to 14 weeks, and in 2018 and 2019, legislators defeated a resolution to add abortion as a right in the country’s constitution. In Poland, abortion is legal when the pregnancy is the result of rape or the life or health of the mother is at risk. In Ireland, abortion is legal until 12 weeks, and after 12 weeks only when woman’s life or health is at risk or the baby has been diagnosed with a fatal condition.
Spain allows abortion until 14 weeks, while Portugal allows abortion for any reason through 10 weeks and through 12 weeks only if there is a serious threat of injury to the physical or mental health of the mother or the baby has a fatal fetal anomaly. Abortion is allowed up to 16 weeks in Portugal for cases of rape. In Malta, abortion is illegal in all cases. Germany allows abortion up to 12 weeks with mandatory counseling, but abortion is allowed later in pregnancy if there is a risk to the physical or mental health of mother. Hungary allows abortion up to 12 weeks.
Since the fall of Roe, EU parliament members have increased pressure on member states to legalize abortion and remove any obstacles for accessing abortion. In addition to wanting to force doctors to commit abortions against their will, the resolution called for EU countries to give “safe, legal and free abortions” to women. They also want to force doctors to commit abortions despite their on conscience objections and are calling on member nations to add a sentence reading, “Everyone has a right to safe and legal abortion” to the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The Supreme Court noted in Dobbs that there is no right to abortion in the Constitution. However, no state or nation has the legitimate right to regulate homicide against human beings of any age, location, gender, financial status, or health condition.
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