Abortion in Europe: Fully Acquired Right or Tireless Fight ?
ENoMW’s Statement for the International Safe Abortion Day
Brussels, 28 September 2020
“Never forget that a crisis will suffice for women’s rights to be threatened. These rights are never granted. You need to remain careful for your entire life”
With the COVID-19 crisis, this quote from French feminist Simone de Beauvoir proved itself to be once again a tough reminder of an ugly truth. In the face of this unprecedented health emergency, European countries have adopted extraordinary measures such as extensive lockdowns, restricting freedoms and human rights in the process. First victims? Women, everywhere, enduring violence; from being trapped with abusers (many European countries have seen a rise of about 30% in emergency calls reporting male violence in the home) to not being able to enjoy their rights, such as the one to access safe and legal abortion.
In Italy, Government inaction has left women and girls facing avoidable obstacles to accessing this right, putting their health and lives at risk according to Human Rights Watch. This failure to ensure women’s sexual and reproductive health care is not surprising; it only highlights many European countries’ outdated restrictions and the harm they cause to women and girls.
343 women from 28 countries throughout Europe decided to stand up together for women’s rights in the European Union and throughout the world. Feminist activists, politicians, or simple citizens, they launch today a common manifesto, paying tribute to the Manifesto 343 which was released in France in 1971. With this call, they refuse to give up while confronting regressive policies in the continent, they refuse inequalities between European women, they call for extension of the right to safe and legal abortion in the EU.
The right to a safe and legal abortion has been fought for and ultimately obtained in many European countries, yet some women still do not have the choice over their own bodies. The rise of nationalism and conservatism in the European Union has put this right under threat, and we are increasingly seeing steps being taken to erode it throughout the region. This is unacceptable. This right is neither a whim, nor an option, but a necessity for a Europe of freedom, equality and democracy.
The right to a safe and legal abortion should be universal. It should be available for any woman. If the European Union claims to defend human rights, it should be willing to enforce this right throughout the EU and to promote it throughout the world.
We know that in some countries taking a stand and defending this right is difficult, that sometimes even freedom of expression is threatened. This is why this Manifesto has been written, paying tribute to the first 343 Manifesto sent out at a time when defending this right was almost impossible.
We have signed this manifesto as Associazione Iroko and as individuals because we believe every woman in the EU and around the world should have access to safe and legal abortions. We urge all of our friends, supporters and partners to do the same.
Visit 343manifesto.eu to sign.