Every year one in three pregnancies worldwide ends in an abortion. A total of 40 million abortions are performed each year, which means that since 1980 one billion children have not been allowed to be born. Contemplating Baby Jesus in the crib one may wonder whether the fact that there are 6.5 billion of us today instead of 7.5 billion is a human achievement or not. Some think it is, some think it is not. But why do those who consider universal legalised abortion to be a sign of progress want to force those who regard abortion as a crime to be a part of it?
A European Union advisory panel has issued a statement saying that medical professionals are not allowed to refuse to participate in abortions. According to the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights doctors should be forced to perform abortions, even if they have conscientious objections, because the right to abort a child is an “international human right.”
The Network, which consists of one expert per EU member state, assists the European Commission and the European Parliament in developing EU policy on fundamental rights. The Network wrote a 40-page opinion stressing that the right to conscientious objection is not “unlimited.” The opinion was given in connection with a proposed treaty between the Vatican and Slovakia. This treaty includes a guarantee that Catholic hospitals in Slovakia will not be legally obliged to “perform artificial abortions, artificial or assisted fertilizations, experiments with or handling of human organs, human embryos or human sex cells, euthanasia, cloning, sterilizations, [and] acts connected with contraception.”
The Network states that agreements which guarantee Catholic doctors and nurses a right not to be involved in abortions violate EU law. Leftist groups have complained that some new EU members – namely Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia – are so overwhelmingly Catholic that far too few doctors are willing to perform abortions. This makes it hard for women who want an abortion to find a doctor who has no conscientious objection. In such cases, the EU experts say, doctors should be forced to abort:
“Indeed, the right to religious conscientious objection may conflict with other rights, also recognized under international law. In such circumstances, an adequate balance must be struck between these conflicting requirements, which may not lead to one right being sacrificed to another.”
The experts declare that the right to religious conscientious objection
“should be regulated in order to ensure that, in circumstances where abortion is legal, no woman shall be deprived from having effective access to the medical service of abortion. In the view of the Network, this implies that the State concerned must ensure, first, that an effective remedy should be open to challenge any refusal to provide abortion; second, that an obligation will be imposed on the health care practitioner exercising his or her right to religious conscientious objection to refer the woman seeking abortion to another qualified health care practitioner who will agree to perform the abortion; third, that another qualified health care practitioner will be indeed available, including in rural areas or in areas which are geographically remote from the centre.”
Recently there was a row about a display in the building of the European Parliament in Brussels of a poster comparing abortion with the holocaust. The poster was part of an exhibition organised by Members of the European Parliament belonging to the League of Polish Families. When leftist MEPs tried to rip the posters down a tussle broke out between MEPs. A group of 500 self-proclaimed “women’s rights and human rights leaders” subsequently wrote a letter to Joseph Borrell-Fontelles, the president of the Parliament, to express their “outrage”.
Apart from the right of a woman to an abortion, which according to the EU’s “experts on fundamental rights” overrules the right of medical professionals to conscientious objections, some argue that there is also the right of the unborn child to live. People who think so are looked upon as “rightwing loonies” by self-styled sophisticated secularists. The latter claim that the unborn have no rights at all. The EU experts clearly belong to this group. This explains why, in their search for an “adequate balance to be struck between conflicting requirements, which may not lead to one right being sacrificed to another,” they consider the rights of women and doctors, but do not mention the rights of unborn children. On Christmas Eve this may deserve some contemplation.
Do EU experts wish each other a Merry Christmas?