Friday, September 24, 2010

Conscientious objection to abortion under threat in the Council of Europe

A report on conscientious objection in medicine will be debated in early October in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). PACE consists of elected representatives from the legislatures of the 47 member-states of the Council of Europe. (Please note that the council is entirely separate from the European Union.) The report’s focus is conscientious objection to abortion, contraception, IVF and euthanasia. If the report is passed, Council of Europe member-states will be under pressure effectively to abolish in law and practice conscientious objection within medicine.

Please contact your country’s representatives in PACE telling them that: you object to the report “Women’s access to lawful medical care: the problem of unregulated use of conscientious objection,” proposed by Christine McCafferty (UK) the report is due to be debated in the PACE plenary session between the fourth and eighth of October

Conscientious objection is recognised as a fundamental human right in international law, but abortion is not ask your representatives to vote against the report as a whole, and to support any pro-life amendments that may be tabled
Here are some facts and pro-life arguments you may wish to use in your message to your country’s PACE representatives:
Access to abortion is not a human right. In the case of Tysiac v. Poland the European Court of Human Rights ruled that states have sovereign rights to regulate abortion, and that medical staff have a right of conscientious objection to abortion;

The report’s attitude to conscientious objection within medicine is in stark contrast to Council of Europe documents upholding a right to conscientious objection to military service;

The report proposes an official complaints procedure which would violate natural justice e.g. no right to representation, no guarantee of impartiality, no right of appeal;

The establishment of an official complaints procedure seeks to legitimise objective wrongs (e.g. abortion), and contravenes EU directives which state that no court or committee can penetrate or examine a person’s conscience.

The report mistakes conscientious objection to objective wrongs (e.g. abortion) for unregulated disobedience based on subjective personal beliefs.

The report’s anti-life bias comes from its anti-life authors: Christine McCafferty (UK); Dr Christian Fiala, International Federation of Professional Abortion and Contraception Associates; and Ms Christina Zampas, Center for Reproductive Rights, New York.

More information in support of these points can be found via the European Centre for Law and Justice

SPUC has also produced an in-depth background briefing on the McCafferty report.

Please copy any replies you receive from country representatives to