predsjednik komisije HBK Iustitia et pax mons. Đuro Hranić i tajnik dr. Vladimir Dugalić / Foto: Patrik Macek/PIXSELL
Women's health cannot be identified with non-existing right to abortion
Review of Matić’s statement which has no legally bound grounds
1. Iustitia et Pax (Justice and Peace) stands for justice, right and peace, and within that it strives towards ethical consideration of social events and issuing legal acts in order to protect human dignity, human rights and the rights of the most sensitive groups in the society. According to that, the analysis of the Statement and suggested Resolution named “The situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the framework of women’s health” (2020/22 15(INI)) based on it and called Matić’s Statement, contains numerous disturbing elements and is not based on either international document, moreover it is contrary to all existing global as well as those European. It has no legally bound grounds on which it could be founded and due to that fact it presents a severe violation of protected human rights, especially the rights of children and rule of law.
It is additionally of concern that a praiseworthy care for health of the population, especially women, is used for promotion of ideological and world-view issues, including the abortion among the non-existing human rights. In order to change the European legal framework, excluding all regulations, this Statement without any legal grounds creates some new human rights (right to abortion), some already existing human rights it ascribes (the right of parents to raise their children), some it minimizes and some it relativizes (right to appeal if conscience) and surpasses the authorizations which pertain to the European Union based on contracts of founding and also directly represents the violation of the Charter of EU on fundamental rights (OJ C 202). The rights concerning health and education are the so-called domaine réservée, namely areas in which national legislations are exclusively authorized to regulate them as they wish (in this sense, also some verdicts of the Human Rights Court have been passed).
2. Women’s health cannot be identified with non-existing right to abortion (except in excess situations when the pregnancy endangers the life or health of the mother) from simple reason because pregnancy is not a disease. In this sense, the claim that all health services should be guaranteed to have access to is inappropriate due to realization of the human right to health, because in case of abortion it is not a question of right to health and therefore not of health but medical service. In this Statement, the right to health as human right is being mixed up with abortion which is supported without any limitations which is contrary to the standards of the Human Court of Justice according to which the abortion in any case should have a sensible and objective motif. The ban, namely, limitation of abortion is in the Statement called a form of natively conditioned violence which is contrary to all standards of the European Court for Human Rights according to which the abortion in any case should have a sensible and objective motif.
3. Iustitia et Pax is concerned by the openness of the Statement considering the abortion, putting it within the context of “the right to freedom and privacy”. Namely, the right to freedom is here applied unlimitedly and individualistically, not noticing at the same time that the right saying that right to freedom cannot be of concern to only one person (in this case woman), already incorporates the right of an unborn child to be born and have the right to live. Freedom of every human being is limited by the freedom of another human being, and also of an unborn child. Here we should also remind of the Resolution 1607 (2008.) of the Parliamentary Assembly and Council of Europe in which it is stated that the abortion should be avoided and that it in any case cannot be considered as a method of planning a family. It seems that the suggested Resolution completely disregards the fact that it is at the same time of concern and also dangerous for protected human rights, especially the rights of children and the rule of law.
4. The claim for guaranteeing “a universal access to education as well as accurate, scientifically-based facts on sexuality, without prejudice and completely in all elementary and middle schools” pointed-out in the Statement, represents the violation of already mentioned national responsibility, because the educational system is not under the authority of EU. But here we also speak of the violation of: The Convention on the rights of the child which recognizes parents as primary raisers of their children, General Declaration of Human Rights and International Pact on civil and political rights which give parents the right of primacy in selecting the type of education for their children. Of all European documents, especially important and explicit is the First Protocol of the European Convention for protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as the Chart of EU on fundamental rights – in both documents, the parents are recognized the right to ensure education and teaching for their children according to their religious, philosophical and pedagogical beliefs, and we specifically point-out “in accordance with national laws which regulate the realization of such freedoms and rights”. The issue is the area in which the states have extremely wide margins of judgement on which the EU has no legal basis/authority to influence it in any way, and especially not by not thoroughly thought-through ideological pamphlets which give the false picture of legal legitimacy.
5. The claim from the Statement that all persons have access to services regarding “fertility” also presumes the complete freedom of minors to have an abortion. This represents the open attack on the child’s right to health and an obligation of the state as well as adults to protect it, because, it should be mentioned again, an abortion is not a medical service.
6. Considering the appeal of conscience, in the Statement it is regarded by relativization of its meaning. The appeal of conscience arises from the freedom of conscience as human right, guaranteed by many international documents, including the Chart of EU. Besides, the appeal of conscience is also one of natural rights which had existed before and independent on any written positive legislature. The positive legislature may not without grounds limit the appeal of conscience because in that case it would annul the presumption of the law by itself which means a human person as a moral subject who has an absolutely unbreachable human dignity which spans to dignity of personal conscience as well.
7. This Statement, with many repetitions, has tried to encompass as many contents and terms which could be put under the same nomination of absolute freedoms in all, especially within the health and reproductive rights. Probably conscious of subsidiarity, it calls for “open methods of coordination between the member states” (clause D, clause 1) but in spite of that, it widens its reach also outside and not regarding the health rights, especially of women. It stands for: unlimited freedoms (in access to all health services and therefore medical artificial insemination of LGBTI persons, right to concluding same-sex marriages, unlimited contraception, clause I), sexual activities regardless of age (clause B), unlimited autonomy of children (clause C), gender ideology (clause E, including for example the right of transgender and non-binary persons to have children, clause N, right of transgender persons to parentship, clause 9, contrary to so-called “Stereotypes and biases”, clause 29). In many clauses it is pointed-out that the right to abortion is human right, and violation of reproductive and sexual rights is “the violation of human rights, especially right to live” (clause F) which Iustitia et Pax considers strange when we know that by abortion one human life is being diminished.
8. It seems unconvincing to refer to “European values” (clause Y), forgetting or intentionally separating from Christian roots of that same Europe, pointed-out in the words of one of its founders Robert Schuman that the Old Continent is not merely a technical and economic community, but also a community the soul of which is reflected in its Christian foundations.
It is very dangerous when the Statement attacks “national interests” of the member states (clause X) by putting “personal freedoms and principles of democracy” before them. Anti-discrimination is used to support absolute freedoms without limitations or responsibilities of an individual by disregarding the golden standard of the rule of law. In this Statement, the legal standard has also been completely disregarded and circumvented, which presents what is in the best interest of the child and makes the basis and criterium of all behaviours of adults and institutions in regard of children, and which has been explicite mentioned in all international documents of the Convention of rights of the child and further.
From all above mentioned, Iustitia et Pax is of opinion that the Statemen and Resolution should be rejected by the representatives in the European Parliament, because not only that there is no legal basis for their passing, but they are also contrary to European and global documents. The care of women’s and children’s care should be directed towards actual health problems and not abortion and world-view issues.
Zagreb, 23 June 2021
Đuro Hranić, Archbishop of Đakovo-Osijek
Commission of the Episcopal Conference of Croatia Iustitia et Pax