De Jong: European Parliament should not interfere in abortion issue

22 October 2013

De Jong: European Parliament should not interfere in abortion issue

Today the European Parliament will vote on a report calling on the member states to guarantee the sexual and reproductive rights of women. The SP will vote against it. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains: ‘Of course the SP also views it as important that these rights are well regulated. We have, however, always been assured that the EU was not going to get involved in matters such as abortion, because they have no competence in this area. In my own report on criminal law, adopted by the EP eighteen months ago, I argue in favour of a cautious approach. Only when there are clearly cross-border offences at issue can there be any reason for European legislation. Abortion is pre-eminently a subject which the member states themselves must regulate and the European Parliament should not be involved.’

Dennis de JongThe report itself is non-legislative, but the fact that the European Parliament is turning its attention to the issue is certainly a first step towards legislation. ‘New European competences often begin with a report, such as the one presented today, but the European Commission will always seize upon this as a basis for follow-up actions. The Commission is insatiable when it comes to extending its powers, especially in relation to criminal law, when in recent times it has been somewhat aggressive in its stance,’ warns De Jong. ‘Now they want to put the courts under restraint in relation to various crimes involving EU moneys, introducing minimum penalties. In addition, they want to set up a European office of public prosecutions. That’s why I have no trust at all in this report not being used as a basis for Commission proposals on sexual and reproductive rights in general and abortion in particular.’
De Jong stressed that this was not in his view to do with the right to an abortion. ‘That right is well-regulated in the Netherlands, though unfortunately not in other European countries such as Ireland,’ he said. ‘But it’s up to Ireland to decide how to regulate the right for women to choose a safe abortion. The European Union has no say in this.’

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