by Steven Ertelt
April 16, 2008
Strasbourg, France (LifeNews.com) — The Council of Europe approved a resolution calling on its member nations to legalize abortion or pave the way for more abortions if they’ve already done so. Pro-life advocates in Ireland, Malta and Poland are concerned the measure will add to pressure to force them to overturn their pro-life laws.
The report calls on all 47 member countries to guarantee womens effective exercise of their right to abortion and to lift restrictions which hinder access to safe abortion."
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed the resolution on a 102-69 vote with 14 members abstaining.
The council also rejected amendments form pro-life members to weaken some of the pro-abortion language.
"Today is a tragic day for Europe, not least because this report in favor of even more killing of unborn children was rushed through the Assembly without proper scrutiny," Pat Buckley of the British Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said after watching the vote.
"Tragically, this is the first time that any international document has asserted a right to abortion," he added.
Buckley said the rules for debate made it hard for pro-life advocates to limit the expansiveness of the pro-abortion resolution.
"Plenary session speeches were limited to three minutes, amendment speeches to 30 seconds and scrutiny by the Assembly’s legal affairs committee denied," he said.
As other pro-life advocates have noted, the only silver lining in the vote is that the Council of Europe doesn’t have the same legal weight as the European Union.
"The only consolation is that the resolution is not legally binding," Buckley said.
Nigel Dodds, MP and MLA for Belfast North, deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and a minister in the Northern Ireland executive, also bemoaned the vote.
"It’s a sad day for the unborn child in Europe, but the fight goes on," he said.
Buckley indicated that Christos Pourgourides of Cyprus, on behalf of the conservative (EPP/CD) group, asked for the legal affairs committee to examine the resolution as the panel normally does.
However, abortion advocates defeated the request on a vote so the pro-abortion resolution wouldn’t be softened or defeated there.
As LifeNews.com reported on Tuesday, the Catholic bishops of Malta released a joint statement on Tuesday saying they strongly opposed the report.
Before that, Irish lawmakers said they would vigorously oppose the resolution.