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European Parliament Women’s Rights Committee: Sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights

(Brussels, 18 September 2013) Today, the Women’s Rights Committee of the European Parliament (FEMM Committee) voted on a report on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) warmly welcomes the positive outcome of the negotiation and voting process. The issue had not been debated since 2002, because of regular attacks on women’s basic right to reproductive and sexual health. In a context of growing conservatism throughout Europe, the adoption today of this new report on SRHR is a very good sign that the issue is back on the agenda and needs to be urgently addressed as a human rights issue.

Indeed, the EWL and its members regularly alert on the detrimental impact of the crisis and austerity measures on public services, including reproductive and sexual health care; in the last 10 years, 180 abortion centers had to close down in France. Anti-abortion lobbies are trying to petition the EU through a European citizens initiative. The abusive use of the right to conscientious objection makes it more difficult for women to access abortion services, while young women and men do not get sufficient information on contraception methods. Sexuality education is still missing in many EU member states, and the sexualisation of girls plays a negative role in perpetuating gender stereotypes.

The EWL therefore welcomes the outcome of the vote and would like to congratulate the rapporteur, MEP Edite Estrela, for her work. The EWL is particularly pleased to see that the issues of surrogacy, transgender persons and pornography are addressed, and the links between SRHR and violence against women are highlighted in the report. You can read the press release of the FEMM Committee here.

The vote of the report in plenary will takes place in October, and the EWL calls on all progressive MEPs to back the document and send a strong signal that SRHR should be considered as human rights in the EU.

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