LONDON – The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has called for an end to all restrictions on abortions in every country in Europe.
It urged the predominantly Catholic countries of Andorra, Malta, Ireland and Poland — where abortion is either illegal or severely restricted — to grant women access to the controversial procedure.
The demands were in a March 18 report by the council’s Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. The report was approved March 11 by a large majority of the equal opportunities committee.
Although the Council of Europe cannot pass laws, it does pass resolutions which may have significant influence on the laws of its 47 member states. It will be discussed during a plenary session April 14-18.
Gisela Wurm, an Austrian member of the committee, said in the report that “even in member states where abortion is legal, conditions are not always such as to guarantee women effective access to this right.”
“Women must be allowed freedom of choice and offered the conditions of a free and enlightened choice,” she added.
The report invited the member states to end all restrictions that hinder access to safe abortion, including medical costs. It also called for access to free or cheap contraception and compulsory sex education in schools.
“The report will undoubtedly be used as leverage toward the creation of a right to abortion on demand in international law, which has always been the most important and ultimate goal of the worldwide pro-abortion lobby,” said John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, a pro-life group in the United Kingdom.
The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 to further the cause of European integration principally by harmonizing human rights law across a continent of 800 million people.
At the heart of the Council of Europe is the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights, through which the convention is enforced and to which Europeans can bring cases if they believe that a member country has violated their rights.