A European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) to add access to abortion to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union has—for the moment—been rejected by the European Commission.
In a letter to the organisers, seen by The European Conservative, the commission responded that the initiative could not be registered in its current form.
“According to the request for registration, the initiative aims to enshrine access to abortion as a fundamental right in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’). The initiative thus asks the Commission to propose an amendment of the Charter,” the letter signed by Commission Vice President Věra Jourová stated.
It then explained:
As the Commission already specified in its Decision (EU) 2021/2314 adopted in the context of the initiative ‘EVE Initiative for the establishment of the right to decide’ (1), the ECI Regulation does not allow a citizens’ initiative to invite the Commission to submit a proposal for an amendment of the Treaties.
As the letter shows, this is not the first push for the creation of the right to abortion through a citizen’s initiative, a mechanism for citizens of EU member states to directly request that the EU Commission propose new laws, as the council and the parliament do.
Forming a citizen’s initiative requires several steps. The first requires setting up a group of organisers composed of at least 7 citizens of EU member states living in 7 different EU countries. Then the initiative must be registered, that is, recognised by the council as compatible with EU rules. Finally, the organisers can begin to collect signatures showing wide support for the initiative. If they can collect a million signatures in a year, the commission must decide whether or not it will act on the initiative.
But a citizen’s initiative cannot go so far as to call for treaty change, even in the EU Charter.
Also, the representatives for this ECI, Sjoerd Sjoerdsma and Margot Vrijhoeven, are not just citizens but also politicians. Both are members of the far-left Dutch party D66. Sjoerdsma currently sits in the Dutch parliament and Vrijhoeven is the party’s policy chair.
The initiative is another example of attempts by abortion advocates to evade democracy, according to Jonathan Van Maren, a senior editor for The European Conservative, who said,
For decades, activists have attempted to do an end-run around democracy and use international bodies to have a fundamental human rights violation—abortion—declared a human right. It is yet more evidence of their contempt for the sanctity of human life and for those who hold it dear.
Ana del Pino, the executive coordinator of the pro-life European Federation ‘One of Us,’ which has carried forward a pro-life citizen’s initiative, said the organisers will likely rewrite the proposal and attempt to register it again.
She also noted that politically, the commission’s response maintains that regulating abortion is the job of member states, not the EU, while avoiding any direct statements regarding abortion as a right.
“The commission doesn’t go into evaluating whether abortion is a right or not, saying only that it is not a competency of the EU,” she said. “I wouldn’t expect such a courageous evaluation from the commission because it would mean taking a position that they would understand as political.”
As the commission has made it clear, it does not have the power to move forward with citizens’ proposals on treaty change, so the initiative may be a dead end for abortion advocates. But del Pino warns that pro-life supporters should keep an eye on such proposals.
They are one more way abortion proponents will continue their attempts to create a right to abortion.