by Hilary White
BRUSSELS, December 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A report that sought to declare abortion a “human right” and make explicit sex education mandatory for three year-old children, was narrowly defeated in a vote of with 334 votes to 327 at the European Parliament today.
While about 200 pro-life people demonstrated outside, the MEPs adopted an alternative document offered by the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP Group), which is made up mainly of conservative and Christian Democrat MEPs. The “Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights,” put forward by Portuguese Socialist MEP Edite Estrela called abortion a human right and also attacked conscientious objection for healthcare professionals.
After the vote, the BBC reported that a “visibly angry” Estrela “takes to the floor and says that ‘hypocrisy has prevailed over the rights of women’. She is booed by some sections of the parliament but keeps going, saying that ‘extremists’ have prevailed.”
“You can shout all you like – I’m not afraid of you,” the BBC quotes her saying, adding that she demanded her name be removed from the alternate resolution.
One leading Brussels-based pro-life and family group called it a “historic setback for the abortion lobby and all their related stakeholders.” Sophia Kuby, head of European Dignity Watch, said it was notable that the report was ultimately rejected, given the “well-oiled machineries,” and “huge EU-funded budgets” that grant the abortion and homosexualist lobbies “great power of impact in political agenda setting.”
Kuby noted the effectiveness of the public campaign, a rarity in European Union politics that is regularly accused of shutting the public out of debates. It was mainly conducted through social media that saw 4,500 people joining the Facebook page “Estrela No – Respect Subsidiarity” within 72 hours of it being set up on December 6th. The European Humanist Federation reported December 3rd that MEPs had received 80,000 emails asking them to defeat the proposal.
“Since a strong, European-wide mobilisation was maintained until the vote today, it is likely that the number of emails exceeded 100,000,” Kuby said.
The largely symbolic victory over the report is doubly damaging to the abortion advocates at the EU who deal primarily in symbolic gestures, said Kuby. At the EU level, she said, such work is “done for symbolic reasons and to create justifications for new laws and funding” by activists at the state level.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has been a prominent adversary of the report since it was introduced. John Smeaton, SPUC’s chief executive, called the report “one of the most concerted recent attempts to get the European Parliament to exceed its competence and try to impose abortion on European Union member-states.”
“Today’s rejection of the Estrela report proves that peaceful and prayerful grassroots lobbying by pro-lifers can have a real positive impact in the political arena,” he said.
Anthony Ozimic, SPUC’s communications manager, sounded a note of caution, telling LifeSiteNews.com that this is unlikely to be the last word.
“Considering the narrowness of the vote and the determination of the pro-abortion lobby, it is to be expected that the Estrela report will resurface in some form before too long,” he said. “But pro-lifers across Europe have been mobilised and have the confidence to face it down again.”