Campaigners want abortion higher up EU election agenda

By Martin Banks

Leading European NGOs met in Berlin on Wednesday (22 May) calling to “put reproductive rights on the ballot paper” in the forthcoming European Parliament elections.

On the heels of the recent government commissioned report calling for abortions to be legalised within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in Germany, activists from across Europe gathered in Berlin calling citizens to sign up to the “My voice, my choice for safe and accessible abortion” initiative which aims to secure over 1 million signatures over the next three weeks.

The European Citizens’ Initiative allows European citizens to propose legislation. When an initiative collects the target number of signatures, the European Commission evaluates it.

If approved, the Commission may propose legislation, consulting with EU institutions. For “My Voice, My Choice,” hitting 1 million signatures would prompt the Commission to propose financial support for safe and accessible abortion in the EU.

Pro-choice advocates fear that abortion rights are under threat in Germany, especially with the AfD, which supports tightening the existing law, rising in the polls in recent months. Campaigners predict that Germany will see its reproductive rights backslide as witnessed in Italy under Georgia Meloni’s populist government.

While abortion is rarely punished, it remains illegal in Germany except for specific circumstances including if the abortion seeker receives mandatory counselling; if the pregnancy creates health risks for the woman; or if the pregnancy is the result of rape. Paragraph 218 of Germany’s criminal code outlaws abortion, with possible penalties of up to three years in prison and terminating a pregnancy after twelve weeks remains illegal.

Luisa Neubauer from Fridays for Future Germany, said “How safe and free we women are concerns all of us. As activists, as democrats, as people.”

She explained, “the debate about the urgently needed abolition of 218 of the German Criminal Code and access to free abortions in Germany has once again become the focus of public attention. However, a political implementation of the Commission’s recommendations remains unaccomplished, especially by the traffic light government.”

Nika Kovac, Director Institute 8th of March and coordinator of the My Voice, My Choice campaign added, “In hard times like this, where war, climate change and social inequality are fueling despair, we should look for moments that inspire hope, hope that things can and will be better, that positive change is possible when we come together. In these weeks I am inspired by women from all across Europe standing for their rights and by women standing for the rights of those that live in circumstances where the right to choose is non-existent or severely limited. Together they are using their democratic rights, demanding from the European Institutions to ensure safe and accessible abortion care and building a Europe of solidarity, equality and compassion. The approaching European elections give us an opportunity to shape our future of hope also with our vote.”

Kristina Lunz, Author and co-executive director of the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, said, “Every person is entitled to have their own opinion on abortions. But it is not up to anyone to determine the body, health and life of others. Our body, our decision. We need access to safer and legal abortions now!”

Annika Kreitlow, Doctor and spokesperson for the Alliance for Sexual Self-Determination added, As a doctor, abortions are part of health care for me, just like any other procedure. Safe and free access to this basic medical care must be ensured throughout Europe.”

Speakers at the Berlin event include Kristina Lunz, author and co-executive director of the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, Luisa Neubauer, Fridays for Future Germany, Wolke Hegenbarth, actress, Julia Duchrow, Secretary General of Amnesty International Germany, Dr. Laura Sophie Dornheim, author and activist, Annika Kreitlow, doctor and spokesperson for the Alliance for Sexual Self-Determination, Caroline Rosales, Writer and Producer, Leonie Kühn, Doctors for Choice Germany, Stephanie Schlitt, Chairwoman of the Pro Familia Federal Association
and Nika Kovač, Director Institute 8 March and coordinator of the My Voice, My Choice campaign.

About the author

Related Post

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *