“Uniting forces to fight the backlash against reproductive rights”
By MEP Angelika Mlinar, (ALDE/ Neos)
Undeniably, in recent decades global progress has been made to improve women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, yet unfortunately, women in Europe and beyond continue to face denials of our ability to make autonomous decisions about our bodies, sexuality and whether or not to reproduce.
That is why we created the ALL of US coalition — a cross-party platform uniting progressive Members of the European Parliament — that continuously monitors fights and attacks against reproductive and sexual health rights both in the EU and beyond.
Next week, we will present our Manifesto to Commissioner Jourova and Timmermans, urging the EU and Member States to ensure women’s reproductive health and rights, including the right to decide over their own bodies and sexuality, so that women can live freely and enjoy safe reproductive lives.
These rights are intrinsic elements of the human rights framework, without them some of the most significant and intimate aspects of our lives as human beings are at risk. But progress has also brought its own challenges. In too many countries, we are now seeing a backlash against women’s rights, a backlash that hurts us all. This means we need to be alert — these rights are the typical example of rights that shall never be taken for granted. We must continue to work and mobilise support to safeguard our health and rights.
In some Member States, recent laws and policies have sought to roll back existing protections for women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, in particular through the introduction of restrictions on access to abortion and contraception. Typically, these attacks are carried out in the name of “tradition”. Ultra-conservative and fundamentalist actors from different faiths are using the internet and social media to organise and radicalise supporters by spreading misinformation and manipulating the audience. This has happened for example with the Istanbul convention when anti-rights groups have spread misleading information about the treaty and accused it of introducing a so-called “gender-ideology” and opposing “traditional family” values.
We, members of the ALL of US coalition, work together intensely to promote and mobilise support inside and outside the Parliament for women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Time and again we have to fight the actions by less progressive groups such as EPP and ECR who try to delete references to these rights from European Parliament’s reports. Especially EPP, as the largest so-called pro-European group of the European Parliament should set an example in defending these rights, not rolling them back. And we are facing an uphill battle, thinking of next year’s European elections with the populist and conservative voices on the rise.
I am alarmed that the backlash is also affecting the work of many human rights’ defenders, often women, working to advance women’s rights. These brave activists are often harassed and even killed because of their efforts to promote gender equality. But despite these threats these activists stand up for other people’s rights and have potentially the greatest impact on women’s rights. We need to stand up too and help them in their work to defend our common rights — and by doing so we stand up for all of us!
Watch the full ALL of US event HERE.