Pro-Life Members of European Parliament Intervene on Abortion in Lithuania

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 9, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Members of European Parliament Intervene on Abortion in Lithuania

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by Austin Ruse
June 9
, 2008 Note: Austin Ruse writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication.

Vilnius, Lithuania ( — A group of 100 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) has intervened with the government of Lithuania on the question of abortion.

In a letter sent at the end of May, MEPs representing 19 European Union (EU) Member States and four different political groups informed the Chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament, Ceslovas Jurenas, that nothing in European law would prohibit Lithuania from restricting access to abortion.

The letter said, “There is no conflict between either European law or political commitments arising from European integration and legislative measures aimed at providing better legal protection for unborn children.”

The letter goes on to state, “We welcome Lithuanian parliamentarians’ efforts to ensure better protection for children prior to birth.”

Konrad Szymañski, a Member of the European Parliament from Poland and the initiator of the letter, said “The letter aims to clear up any misunderstandings which have recently arisen in Lithuania due to the actions of abortion supporters. The scheduled amendments of laws to protect the life of unborn children are not in breach of EU law or political commitments arising from Lithuanian membership within the EU.”

Signers of the letter decided the intervention was necessary after a group of left-wing Members of the European Parliament told the Lithuanian Parliament in February that commitments made at the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994) and the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995) “confirm(ed) that women’s sexual and reproductive rights are human rights.”

The February letter also quotes Marija Pavilioniene, the head of the EU Parliamentary group for “reproductive health, rights, population and development,” that the proposed Lithuanian act “violates a woman’s right to decide about her body and when and how many children she will have,” a right that is not recognized in European law.

Experts at the United Nations similarly point out that the Cairo and Beijing conference documents were non-binding and do not require any governmental action on anything, let alone abortion.

The pro-abortion faction from the European Parliament has taken to intervening around the world and pressuring governments to accept a right to abortion. The group also intervened in Nicaragua last year at the urging of the pro-abortion organization Catholics for a Free Choice (now known as “Catholics for Choice”) when the Nicaraguan Parliament banned all forms of abortion.

The parliamentarian group is frequently perceived as officially representing the European Parliament as a whole when it does not.

It would surprise many around the world, especially in the United States where the European Parliament is viewed as almost wholly left-wing, that there are as many as 200 pro-life MEPs. This may be the first time the group has intervened with a national Parliament.

The question of abortion has been vexing for European integration.

This weekend voters in Ireland will consider the Lisbon Treaty which will give more power to the European Institutions. The European Commission this week tried to reassure Irish voters that the Lisbon Treaty would not require them to change their laws on abortion. Irish pro-lifers remain skeptical.