EP votes against equality for men and women in health care

8 September 2005

EP votes against equality for men and women in health care

In what was to say the least a disappointing vote this morning, the European Parliament threw out a proposal that would have bolstered gender equality in relation to health care. SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard said: “It's incomprehensible, especially as it was an extremely modest proposal. Obviously equal treatment for men and women is not seen as necessary."

The European Parliament voted this morning on a report from the Swedish MEP Eva-Britt Svensson. The report did not even concern a legislative measure, but was merely a recommendation that the existing gender inequalities in health care be addressed. Said Ms Liotard: “Ms Svensson wanted the Parliament to make a declaration that the life and health of a woman is worthy of as much attention as that of a man. I scarcely imagined that this would cause such a major problem.”

During yesterday evening's debate Kartika Liotard argued for the compulsory reporting by doctors of incidences where a girl or woman appears to have undergone clitorectomy. The Netherlands Council for Public Health is in favour of this, but the Balkenende government has rejected the proposal.

Christian Democrats and Liberals voted in large numbers against the report, but even members of the centre-left Socialists and the Green group voted against or abstained. The Greens were particularly concerned by a point concerning the health risks associated with the extraction of human eggs. Ms. Liotard noted that “This was perhaps unfortunate in its formulation, but in relation to a report which contains twenty-two preliminary points and fifty-six recommendations such an issue should not have led to its complete rejection. As we weren't dealing with legislation, it would have been sufficient to have voted for the report and to have accompanied this with an official 'Explanation of Vote' explaining these specific reservations.”

Of Euro-MPs from the Netherlands, the SP's Kartika Liotard and Erik Meijer were joined in their support by one member of the Greens and three members of the centre-left Socialist Group, while two other Greens abstained, as did four other Dutch Members from the centre-left and centre-right parties. The rest, including the member from the supposedly progressive liberals D66, voted against. The twelve women Members were evenly divided: four for, four against, and four who abstained or failed to vote.

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