The European Parliament recently announced its “priorities” for its next Commission on the Status of Women are “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.” The EU document implies that limiting access to abortion is an infringement of women’s rights. The EU Recommendation invites the EU Council to “counter the impact of the gag rule”, a term used by abortion advocates have used to denigrate Reagan-era policy which ensures US taxpayer only funds groups that promise not to promote or perform abortions. The text was drafted by the Committee on Women’s Rights (FEMM). FEMM’s rapporteurs described the policy as forms of “sexism and Trumpism”, and said somebody “in the Oval Office wants us to… stop repeating the claim ‘Our bodies – our rights‘”.
Critics of the document underline that the EU Council and Commission have repeatedly affirmed ‘that the organization lacks competence on abortion, a subject left to member states’ legislatures. Furthermore, the EU cannot adopt policies and actions on reproductive and sexual health and rights in developing countries that include abortion. “No support is to be given… to encourage sterilization or abortion”. The relevant rules on foreign aid must also provide that the EU cannot promote abortion as a method of family planning and that it most provide post-abortion counseling, which helps “to avoid repeat abortions” (C-Fam – Washington USA, February 23, 2017).