• Home
  • News
  • Irish MEPs join EU lawmakers in voting to enshrine abortion as a fundamental right

Irish MEPs join EU lawmakers in voting to enshrine abortion as a fundamental right

The European Parliament on Thursday voted to make abortion a fundamental right, just weeks after French MEPs voted to enshrine the right to abortion in its constitution.

12 out of 13 Irish MEPs voted for the proposal. They were Independents Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, and Luke Ming Flanagan; Chris MacManus of Sinn Fein; Barry Andrews, Billy Kelleher of Fianna Fail; Sean Kelly, Colm Markey, Deirdre Clune, Maria Walsh and Frances Fitzgerald of Fine Gael, and Grace O’Sullivan of the Greens.

Green Party TD Ciaran Cuffe was absent from the vote.

Pro-life organisation the Life Institute said on Wednesday that the vote was “shameful,” urging people to “vote them out” on the 7 June.

“It’s a symbolic vote, but the meaning of their stance couldn’t be clearer,” the group said.

The right to abortion should be included in the EU Charter of Fundamental rights, centrist and left-wing MEPs argued prior to the vote. MEPs passed the non-binding resolution this afternoon by 336 votes to 163, however the right to “safe and legal abortion,” in order to be included in the bloc’s legally binding charter, would require unanimous agreement by all of the EU’s 27 member states.

The resolution was brought forward by lawmakers on behalf of the S&D, Renew Europe, Greens/European Free Alliance and The Left, and also by MEP Arba Kokalari of the European People’s Party group (but not on behalf of the party).

Malta is the only country in the EU which prohibits abortion. It has come under pressure to change its pro-life legislation, alongside Poland, where abortion laws have been tightened, to allow for abortion only in cases where there is a “risk to life” or if the pregnancy resulted from rape. 

The text calls on both Poland and Malta to repeal their laws and other measures that ban and restrict abortion.

In a plenary debate on 14 March, ten days after France became the first country to enshrine the right to abortion in its constitution, MEPs urged member states to “guarantee women’s access” to abortion.

Following the move from French MPs, President French Emmanuel Macron vowed to push for abortion to be in the EU rights charter, as reported by French newspaper Le Monde.

Members of the European Parliament have put pressure on Malta to decriminalise abortion, while some of the country’s politicians have remained defiant. Maltese Labour MEPs AlMaltese Labour MEPs Alex Agius Saliba and Josianne Cutajar were the only two Social and Democrats to vote against the proposal at the European Parliament on Wednesday, joining Maltese MEP for the European People’s Party, David Casa.

Another Maltese MEP, Alfred Sant, a member of Labour, was among 49 MEPs to abstain from the vote — the single Social Democrat to do so.

The European Parliament urged: “Abortion methods and procedures should be an obligatory part of the curriculum for doctors and medical students, Parliament says. 

“Member states should ensure access to the full range of SRHR services including comprehensive and age-appropriate sexuality and relationship education. Accessible, safe and free contraceptive methods and supplies, and family planning counselling, should be made available, with special attention paid to reaching vulnerable groups

“Women in poverty are disproportionately affected by legal, financial, social and practical barriers and restrictions to abortion, MEPs say, calling on member states to remove these barriers.”

There was pushback from some despite the majority vote. Italian pro-life organisation Pro Vita and Famiglia condemned the “obscene” vote, saying that it was a “tragic snapshot” of the state of the European Parliament, which it said was “addicted to gender ideology and pro-abortion views, becoming increasingly irrelevant in major international issues.”

“With today’s vote, the European Parliament begins to dig its own grave,” the organisation wrote on X.

Maria Maynes

This was first published on Gript and is reprinted here with permission

back to news