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The Estrela report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights has caused great controversy, inside and outside Parliament. In October the majority of the house has democratically voted for a referral back to committee. The purpose of such a referral was to re-consider the text of the report and find a consensus among the political groups.
However, the Chair of the FEMM committee did not allow for the tabling of new amendments – against the opinion of the legal service.
The report is back for vote tomorrow at 12:45, although it has only been changed in some minor details.
The report remains highly problematic, because it
- infringes the fundamental principle of subsidiarity, because it aims at an EU-intervention where there is no competence for it;
- curtails freedom of conscience for medical doctors and nurses not to assist unethical procedures contrary to their conscience;
- promotes a “right to abortion” and a serious limitation of parental rights (parents are reduced to “other stakeholders”) with regards to the sexual education of their children;
- promotes compulsory aggressive and inappropriate sexual education from primary school onwards.
There are no individual amendments to the text, because the amended text adopted by the FEMM committee was not published until AFTER the deadline for new amendments.
Two alternative resolutions have been tabled (Amendment 1 & 2). Both are acceptable texts.
Therefore, we call on you to vote for AM 1 & 2. If both are rejected, we urge you to vote against the report.
Please vote in favour of our children, our families, our democratic Europe – and reject the Estrela report.
European Dignity Watch
The controversial Estrela Report continues to advance, though the reasons for this have less to do with broad support than with machinations and manipulations that are going on behind the scenes. According to various sources in the European Parliament, there are indications that the entire process is being manipulated, with supporters of the report breaching the rules of procedure of the European Parliament itself -- and doing everything they can to push aside objections and not allow open debate about the text.
Although the Estrela Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights was referred back to the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM) at the last plenary session in October, precisely in order to reassess its content the FEMM Committee has pushed basically the same Report through once again. The tactics are dubious. A ban was placed on the tabling of new amendments in committee and on the holding of discussions on the existing alternative resolution from the EFD. The committee has only voted on a few, minor modifications (split votes) to give the appearance of changes; but substantively it is the same as before and has been put back on the agenda for plenary vote on December 10. Everything is speeded up, there is no time for a due debate on the many controversial points of this report.
In reaction to this and in view of the plenary vote next week, the EFD retabled its alternative resolution and the EPP will most probably decide tonight to table a new alternative resolution.
The imposition of a ban on new amendments has provoked fierce debate and a lot of displeasure among MEPs, many of whom are concerned with the legality of this proceeding. In fact, the European Parliament’s Legal Service found the ban to be in breach of the rules of prcoedure, an assessment which they delivered orally to the FEMM Committee on November 26.
Croatia opened its ballot boxes on Sunday—and citizens across the country demonstrated broad consensus on a crucial and fundamental question facing society: Should society entirely give up on the natural marriage as the cornerstone of civilization, re-define marriage as the union of any two adults, regardless of gender, and thus slip away into total arbitrariness? Or should marriage remain what it has always meant—a lifelong union between a woman and a man?
The result of yesterday’s referendum in Croatia is clear: 65.8% of voters chose to preserve marriage as a union of a woman and a man, by asking their government to recognize it as such in their constitution (33,5% voted against).
Attempts to downplay the result of the referendum came swiftly. The head of the government, Prime Minister Zoran Milanović, hastened to assure the public: “This will be the last time that a majority takes away the rights of a minority.”
While Croatian media all but completely ignored the outcome of the historic referendum, international media outlets made great efforts to show that the results were anything but the will of ordinary Croatian citizens. “To prevent equal treatment of homosexual relationships, the powerful Catholic Church forced the referendum against the will of the left-wing government” (Germany’s Berliner Zeitung).
EU Business, Focus News Agency, and the BBC misinformed readers, claiming that the referendum asked whether gay marriage should be banned or outlawed. But truth is that there is no right to gay marriage in Croatia. Citizens were simply asked to answer “yes” or “no” to the question: “Do you support the introduction of a provision into the constitution of the Republic of Croatia that defines marriage as a life-long union of a woman and a man?”
A referendum is one of the clearest examples of direct democracy, with nearly 750,000 signatures were gathered to hold Sunday’s referendum. And all Croatians entitled to vote could have their say in the referendum. In fact, as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted, the referendum brought people of different faiths together, with Orthodox, Protestants, Muslims, and Jews supporting the initiative. The fact that 65% of those who participated voted “yes” and 33% said “no” is a clear and simple sign of this democratic process—all the more impressive given the intense pressure that the media and government officials, including the Prime Minister and Education Minister, put on organizers of the referendum and their allies over the past few weeks.
The result of the referendum does not take anyone’s rights away. All Croatian citizens will continue to have the same rights after the vote as they did before the vote. The only thing that Croatians have called for through Sunday’s referendum is for their country’s constitution to recognize and protect a unique institution—a man and a woman joined together in a life-long union—and to treat it as such. This is the very definition of justice.
The Estrela Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, promoting compulsory sex education for toddlers and a right to abortion, was just adopted in the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM) of the European Parliament.
This is the second time that the FEMM Committee has voted on the Report as it was referred back to the Committee by majority of MEPs at an October plenary session of the European Parliament.
The Estrela Report was referred back to the Women’s committee after an intense debate about its controversial content, which includes not only the promotion of abortion and a call for restrictions on conscientious objection but also urges compulsory sexual education for children aged 0-4 onwards. (For example, children should be informed about “enjoyment and pleasure when touching one’s own body”, “early childhood masturbation”, etc.)
As for the FEMM Committee meeting today, debate was again very intense. A lot of the Report‘s opponents spoke out, mentioning a possible breach of the Parliament‘s legal procedure because of an outright ban that was placed on tabling new amendments or discussing the existing alternative resolution.
Although Mrs. Angelika Niebler MEP (EPP) requested to postpone the vote on the Report until the European Parliament‘s Legal Service or Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) could be asked for an official opinion on the legality of the amendment ban, the Report‘s proponents argued that there was no need to further delay the vote.
Thus, Mrs. Niebler‘s proposal to wait for informed legal opinion on the amendment ban was rejected. And the entire Estrela Report was adopted by 19 MEPs voting in favor and 15 against. It was a non-nominal vote.
The amendments tabled before the last plenary session were voted on, but the report was changed only in details not in substance.
Most of the proposed amendments were rejected, but some minor changes were adopted. These include:
The Estrela Report: promoting compulsory sex education for toddlers and a right to abortion, and calling for restrictions on conscientious objectionNovember 25, 2013
The scandalous Estrela Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights is back on the agenda! After heated debate, it was referred back to the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) by the october plenary session of the European Parliament. The report will be discussed in the second round in the FEMM Committee tomorrow, 26th of November. The Committee will vote on the report again, a necessary step for it to get in back to the plenary.
The proponents of this radical anti-freedom and anti-life report are very nervous: No debate will be allowed, no new amendments will be allowed to be tabled and the existing tabled alternative resolution, which was a good, non-ideological text, is completely banned from the agenda.
This means that the content of the report will be changed in cosmetic details at best, which means that MEPs will be asked to vote on the same toxic report which they referred back to the committee, because it was not acceptable to the majority of the house.
The legislative process of the European Parliament is clear: In case of a referral back to committee, a report or proposal must be fundamentally reconsidered. But with the Estrela Report, its proponents are busy trying to basically get the same report through again at an accelerated pace. It goes without saying that the need for further debate-and serious consideration whether this report should be taken off the agenda altogether-was exactly the reason why the European Parliament decided to refer it back to the FEMM Committee in the first place!