Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 16
No. 2
March, 2022
Focus on the US

Biden Defends Abortion in Address to Nation

President Biden defended the killing of unborn children during his State of the Union Address (SOTU) calling access to abortion on demand necessary for “advancing liberty and justice” and “protecting the rights of women”. He was critical of the increased number of laws restricting and regulating abortion enacted by state legislators calling the laws “an attack”. President Biden stated, “The constitutional right affirmed in Roe v. Wade—standing precedent for half a century—is under attack as never before.” He described abortion as “health care”: “If we want to go forward—not backward—we must protect access to health care. Preserve a woman’s right to choose.”
Biden’s abortion advocacy in the State of the Union address had been requested by 120 pro-abortion organizations which sent a letter demanding that he mention access to abortion in his remarks. Organized by Planned Parenthood, the letter implored him to address the “national abortion access crisis”. The organizations expressed concern that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade “approximately half the states, mostly in the South and Midwest, are poised to ban abortion; millions of people who can become pregnant could lose abortion access, including 36 million women — nearly half of the women of reproductive age (18-49) in the United States.”
The letter concluded, “We are hopeful you will make a forceful case to the American public about the administration’s efforts to protect abortion access in the face of unprecedented attacks.”
Not all pro-abortion groups were satisfied with Biden’s remarks referring to abortion as a “constitutional right” or as “health care” or as “a woman’s right to choose”— they wanted him to say the word “abortion”.
The organization Did President Biden say ‘abortion’ yet?, which is counting the number of days President Biden has refused to say the word “abortion” in a public statement, tweeted: “Once again our pro-choice president has opted to refuse to say the word abortion when mentioning attacks on Roe v. Wade in his #SOTU speech. People who have abortions deserve to hear our President speak about what we're facing and what he plans to do about it #SayAbortionJoe”.
“President Joe Biden had a sentence or two about protecting Roe in his State of the Union address, but he didn't actually say the word "abortion." He still has yet to use the word in any of his oral remarks.”
The editor of Abortion Stories, @RBraceySherman, tweeted: “People who have abortions deserve a president who says the word abortion and understands that giving more money to police will harm us, especially as states move to criminalize abortion. I believe we can have—and deserve—a president who can do both. We must demand it.”
A reporter for the Washington Post,@CAKitchener, tweeted about the controversy:, “Biden has attracted a ton of criticism from abortion rights groups for failing to say the word “abortion.” Since he’s been in office, he has yet to say the word publicly. He and his admin will often sub in terms like “a constitutional right” and “reproductive health care.”
“Republicans, on the other hand, have mentioned the issue in eight SOTUs since 1973 — and said the word “abortion” in seven of those. Trump said the word in two of his speeches.”
The morning after the address, President Biden refused to answer a reporter’s
question when he returned to the White House after attending Ash Wednesday services with a visible cross on his forehead. He was asked, “As a Catholic, why do you support abortion?”
It was reported that Biden immediately went on the defensive of his pro-abortion stance and said “I don’t want to get in a debate with you on theology … I’m not going to make a judgement for other people.”
Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, responded when asked about Biden’s answer, “When Biden, Pelosi, and the other abortion advocates are asked a question about law and policy, they try to hide behind theology. We don’t want to know about Biden’s theology, but about his honesty. There’s only one Catholic position on abortion: you protect the child in the womb. He doesn’t.”

Biden Blasts Senate Republicans for Stopping Radical Abortion Act

Republicans in the U.S. Senate, joined by Democrat Senator Joe Manchin, defeated a motion to proceed to a vote on H.R. 3755, the Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act, the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act. The bill had passed the House of Representatives and needed 60 votes in order to proceed to a vote in the Senate but only received 46 votes in favor with 48 opposed and six senators not voting—3 Republicans and 3 Democrats—resulting in the bill’s defeat.
Speaking for President Joe Biden, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated that “it is extremely disappointing that Senate Republicans blocked passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would strengthen health care access and codify constitutional rights affirmed half a century ago by Roe v. Wade and in subsequent Supreme Court precedent.”
Referencing the numerous state pro-life laws, she continued speaking for the Biden administration in strident pro-abortion language: “As dangerous new laws proliferate in states across the country, the Biden-Harris Administration will continue to explore the measures and tools at our disposal to stand up for women’s equality. This is a moment for us to recommit to strengthening access to women’s health care, defend the constitutional right affirmed by Roe, and protect the freedom of all people to build their own future.”
Senator Steve Daines, founder and chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, spoke on the Senate floor against the legislation. His remarks included the following,
The “Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act” would impose a horrifying abortion regime across the land that violates the right to life and is completely contrary to the kind of nation America is and aspires to be.
In this bill’s America, vulnerable women and girls could receive dangerous do-it-yourself chemical abortion drugs by mail without ever seeing a doctor in-person.
In this bill’s America, a doctor or nurse who doesn’t want to perform an abortion could be forced to do so in violation of his or her deeply-held moral and religious beliefs.
In his remarks, Senator James Lankford called out the Democrats for focusing on a bill to massively advance abortion while the world is concerned with the people of Ukraine. He stated:
This body should be the place where we're actually debating the biggest issues of the day, and apparently to my Democratic colleagues the biggest issue of the day is how many more abortions can we get in America,…What has this body become, when there's an obsession with abortion?
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also questioned the Senate Democrats stating:
With a cascade of major crises testing our country, Senate Democrats are prioritizing a show vote on mandating nine months of abortion on demand across America.
Senate Democrats want to go on the record supporting the radical and massively unpopular proposition that we should have functionally no restrictions on abortion whatsoever.
Senator Roger Marshall, an OBGYN who has delivered more than 5,000 babies, also spoke on the Senate floor against the bill saying,
At a time when Vladimir Putin is killing Ukrainians, my Democrat colleagues want to kill more unborn American children for any reason up until the moment the baby takes its first breath. Indeed, this bill should be called the Abortion on Demand until Birth Act. This is the most egregious, horrific attack on the lives of unborn children and the health of moms in American history… I never ever imagined when I came to the Senate that I would be fighting harder on the Senate floor to save the lives of moms and babies than I did in the emergency room and the delivery room.
Read more here.
Defending Life

SRHR Not in AU-EU Summit Declaration

The African Union (AU)- European Union (EU) Summit recently took place with a joint political declaration that does not include promotion of the radical sexual and reproductive health and rights agenda (SRHR). It declares:
“This renewed Partnership will be founded on geography, acknowledgment of history, human ties, respect for sovereignty, mutual respect and accountability, shared values, equality between partners and reciprocal commitments.”
The summit focused included pressing health concerns not only from COVID-19 but HIV/AIDs, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases.
In response to the declaration, pro-abortion organizations led by IPPF, issued a statement— Joint civil society reaction: EU-AU Summit leaves many questions unanswered and crucial topics unaddressed—expressing their displeasure:
“We deeply regret the absence of a commitment to the achievement of universal access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in the political declaration, despite the calls made by civil society and youth ahead of the Summit about the importance of prioritising SRHR.
SRHR are critical to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), as well as gender equality and human development. While we welcome the development of a Team Europe Initiative on SRHR in Sub-Saharan Africa, we call on the EU and the AU to implement ambitious policies and allocate adequate funding to the achievement of SRHR for all.”
The pro-abortion coalition, Countdown 2030, noted that SRHR is included in the EU’s Gender Action Plan III, its communication and Council Conclusions on a comprehensive strategy with Africa and the post-Cotonou Partnership agreement.

Malta: Government Rejects EU Push for Abortion

Malta’s government has rejected pressure from European leaders to legalize abortion. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, had called on Malta to repeat its law banning abortion in the name of women’s health. Mijatović claimed Maltese law needed to include access to abortion and sexual and reproductive health services. Malta’s government rejected the recommendation and the claim that abortion equates women’s health care. “Whilst Malta is fully committed to providing access to reproductive healthcare, and is working to improve these services, including the strengthening of comprehensive sexual health education, through a multisectoral approach, Malta does not agree with the interpretation that the right to sexual and reproductive health services includes an intrinsic right to abortion,” the government stated. Maltese officials also enforced the right of EU member states to enact their own sovereign laws. 
International Pressure for Abortion

Colombia: Court Ruling Decriminalizes Abortion Up to 24 Weeks

The Colombian Constitutional Court decriminalized abortion in a ruling making abortion permissible until 24 weeks gestation, the first country in the region to do so. The Court’s decision changes Colombia’s law permitting abortion only in cases of rape, fetal anomaly, or risks to the life of the mother. The ruling, approved in a 5-4 vote, said that abortion on demand “will only be punishable when performed after the twenty-fourth (24) week of pregnancy and, in any case, this time limit will not apply to the three grounds established in ruling C-355 of 2006.” The Court tasks Congress and the government with implementing a policy of abortion on demand up to six months.  
Colombia’s president Iván Duque Márquez criticized the decision and said he is “a pro-life person, I have always been a pro-life person. I believe, as the Constitutional Court itself also stated a long time ago, that life begins with conception.” Márquez explained that the Court “is breaking the principle of constitutional res judicata (irreversibly decided already) because the Court had already ruled on this matter quite some time ago, in 2006, and the Court had established three exceptional reasons for interrupting a pregnancy.”   
The bishops of Colombia strongly condemned the Court’s ruling, saying, “to hold that the rights to life and to receive the protection of the State, protected by the Constitution, aren’t protected from the moment of conception, is an affront to human dignity.”   
The pro-abortion Just Cause Movement, a coalition of organizations started by Women’s Link Worldwide which filed the 2006 abortion case and actively rallied for the decision, stated: “From the Just Cause Movement we recognize that this ruling has been the result of the continuous work we have been doing since 2017 because, like never before, we managed to advance a national conversation about the importance of decriminalizing abortion in the country.” 
The Center for Reproductive Rights was active in the case and stated that it would continue working for the full guarantee of sexual and reproductive rights and to eliminate the crime of abortion from the Penal Code. Its regional director said, “The decriminalization of abortion is a necessary advance for women's rights and an essential step for the provision of abortion in safe conditions throughout the country.” 
Pro-life leaders vow to continue fighting for legal protection of unborn children.  
Jesús Magaña, president of the United for Life platform, told ACI Prensa that they would look to Congress to place limits on the Constitutional Court which he explained “is violating the Constitution by not accepting what Article 11 of the Magna Carta says, which establishes in the text that life is inviolable and that in Colombia there will be no death penalty.” He emphasized that "life begins at the moment of fertilization and from that moment on it is inviolable" and added that with this new ruling on abortion "the judges have once again gone wrong, they have violated the Constitution that they swore to defend and they have once again failed the Colombian people." 
Andrea Garzón, a Colombian pro-life leader, lamented that “we have a pro-abortion court that’s not protecting the human rights of Colombians. We need to keep on fighting, keep defending life. We are going to continue defending the rights of unborn children.” 
Focus on the United Nations

U.S. Wants Laws Against Abortion Removed in Name of Equality

In a speech delivered to the UN Women executive board, Ambassador Richard Mills, Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations, expressed U.S. support for UN Women’s abortion advancing Generation Equality Forum (GEF) and its incorporation into UN Women’s Strategic Plan. He reminded the board that Vice President Harris had previously announced the U.S. commitment for the GEF Action Coalition on sexual and reproductive health and rights. The GEF plan includes a collective commitment on Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights which states: “Expanding access to safe abortion for all people who can become pregnant by influencing change in national legislation in as many countries as possible to ensure that abortion is decriminalized and that legal and policy barriers to abortion, including to self-managed abortion, are removed.”
Changes in law and policy on access to abortion are listed:
“Governments adopt and implement national laws, policies and guidelines to expand access to sexual and reproductive health services, including by expanding telemedicine, comprehensive family planning services, including over the counter delivery, and self-managed contraception and abortion care through implementation of WHO self-care guidelines. Remove regulatory and policy barriers that impede access to abortion to the full extent of the law, provide post-abortion care and enact reforms to legalize and decriminalize abortion.”
The ultimate goal of Generation Equality Forum is to “support removal of restrictive policies and legal barriers, ensuring 50 million more adolescent girls and women live in jurisdictions where they can access safe and legal abortion by 2026.”
Ambassador Mills announced that the Biden administration “appreciates” UN Women’s plan “to unveil a public commitment dashboard and a preview of a GEF accountability framework at the upcoming Commission on the Status of Women”. The ambassador elaborated that the US wants to ensure that GEF commitments made by Member States “keep with the timeline” UN Women established “so that the GEF goals are not put at further risk and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Biden’s first National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, which states that is seeks to “protect the constitutional right to safe and legal abortion established in Roe v. Wade in the United States, while promoting access to sexual and reproductive health and rights both at home and abroad” was highlighted in his remarks. The ambassador stated that the U.S. looks forward “to working with UN Women and Member States to ensure timely implementation of Generation Equality Forum commitments and the ambitious UN Women Strategic Plan and to crafting robust, action oriented CSW Agreed Conclusions in March. He also announced that that the U.S. has increased its core funding contribution to UN Women by nearly $5 million.
Legislative News

Ecuador: Lawmakers Approve Bill Legalizing Abortion

Ecuador’s National Assembly passed legislation to permit abortion up to 18 weeks gestation in cases of rape. Lawmakers approved the bill by a vote of 75-41, with 14 abstaining. Newly-elected President Guillermo Lasso may veto the bill, having said earlier this year, “I am determined to veto it, I cannot tell you if it will be a total or partial veto, it depends on the final text of the National Assembly.” The legislation follows a court ruling last year legalizing abortion in cases of rape after years of international pressure. Pro-lifer Paul Garcia argued that every life is precious, including those victimized by rape: “They want to murder another victim inside the womb of the mother.” 

Netherlands: Parliament Votes to Remove Abortion Waiting Period

Dutch lawmakers have voted to remove a five day waiting period before abortions. The current law requires women who are 16 days pregnant to wait five days and has been in place since abortion was first legalized in the 1980s. Lawmakers voted 101 to 38 to approve the bill, which now awaits a vote in the upper house.
Executive News

UK: ‘DIY’ Abortions Meant to be Temporary

Provisions to permit ‘DIY’ abortions at home enacted at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic were “always intended to be a temporary measure” the UK government has said. However, it is still considering making it permanent. “We are carefully considering all evidence submitted to the Government’s consultation on whether to make the temporary measure allowing for home use of both pills for early medical abortion permanent,” Lord Kamall, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care. MPs in both the House of Lords and the House of Commons raised concerns with the DIY policy, citing studies demonstrating the dangers of a lack of medical supervision, coercion and abuse, and the need for hospital treatment resulting from the ‘DIY’ abortions.  
Judicial News

Italy: Court Blocks Referendum on Assisted Suicide

Italy’s Constitutional Court has denied a referendum to legalize assisted suicide, calling it “inadmissible”. The Court ruled that changes to the law on assisted suicide would remove “the constitutionally necessary minimum protection of human life, in general, and with particular reference to weak and vulnerable persons, would not be preserved”. Current Italian law bans assisted suicide and euthanasia and punishable with up to 15 years in prison. The Chamber of Deputies is expected to consider a bill to legalize assisted suicide later this year. “Legislation in favour of assisted suicide is legislation in favour of removing legal protections for the sick and vulnerable in our society,” said Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson. “The Constitutional Court in Italy is right to reject this call for a referendum. A country should not be able to remove the fundamental rights of its citizens by popular vote”. 

Belgium: Court Rules Against Conscience Protection for Euthanasia

The Belgian Constitutional Court has upheld policies to remove conscientious protections for health care institutions who oppose euthanasia. The new policy will force any health care institution who does not perform the procedure to refer a patient to a “centre or association specialized in the right to euthanasia.”
“These amendments not only threaten the right to freedom of conscience for those in the medical profession, they also threaten the right of patients objecting to euthanasia to have access to an environment where they can be sure no euthanasia will be practiced,” said Jean-Paul Van De Walle, Legal Counsel for ADF International in Brussels. “The World Medical Association has consistently and categorically rejected the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide as being unethical. Patients have better options than euthanasia and healthcare institutions and doctors should be allowed to offer those choices without being coerced in this way.”

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