Friday, October 22, 2010

Concerning Human Dignity Alert in the EU (See the message I posted 18 October)

Two important reports have been voted in this week's plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg: the non-funding of EU development programs that include coercive abortions and other human right's abuses; and, sadly, a change of the concept of paternity leave, taking as its criterion the relationship of the partner to the mother rather - as the word itself suggests - of the partner to the child. This opens up "paternity" leave explicitly for lesbian couples.
Source: Human Dignity Watch

European Parliament confirms the non-funding of coercive abortion

During this week’s Plenary Session in Strasbourg, the European Parliament voted on the general budget of the European Union for 2011.

Several amendments regarding specific criterion for the EU's funding of development programs were decided. Parliament confirmed by a majority vote the EU's refusal to fund development programs, NGOs or governments that participate in forced abortions, sterilizations or infanticide. All amendments that sought to affirm the non-funding of such programs were adopted.

The key amendment, which was adopted by a majority of 372 to 279 votes with 21 abstentions, confirms that no other partner of an EU development program is allowed to support or participate in human rights abuses, such as coercive abortion:

The European Parliament stresses that Community assistance should not be given to any authority, organization or programme which supports or participates in the management of an action which involves such human rights abuses as coercive abortion, involuntary sterilization or infanticide, especially where such actions apply their priorities through psychological, social, economic or legal pressure, thus finally implementing the specific Cairo ICPD prohibition on coercion or compulsion in sexual and reproductive health matters; calls on the Commission to present a report on the implementation of the EU’s external assistance covering this programme.

One amendment- proposed by the socialist group that asked to remove an important reference to “coercive abortion, female genital mutilation and forced sterilisation or any cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” - was rejected.

The European Union is the largest donor of development assistance to countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Parliament used an opportunity in today’s vote to condemn human rights abuses which are sadly often associated with family planning programmes in the form of forced abortions, sterilization's and even infanticide.

"Paternity leave" opened up for lesbian couples

This Wednesday, October 20’th, a report by the Portuguese Socialist MEP Edite Estrela was adopted on its first reading by the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg. The subject of the report was an introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breast-feeding.

One of the amendments voted in this report was presented by the Estonian MEP ALDE, Siiri Oviir, whom introduced an European standard for paternity leave of two weeks in order to encourage paternal involvement in the education of their child.

This measure was also extended to any life partner of the mother, regardless who this partner is- for lesbian couples were explicitly envisioned.

This amendment, therefore, contradicts its own purpose since the object of paternity concerns the relationship of a father to a child, a child with whom he has a legally recognized relationship. The report, as it was amended, now changes the concept of paternity leave and focuses merely on the relationship between the mother of the child and her partner (man or woman), regardless of the partner’s relationship to the child. Even more importantly, this amendment introduces an implicit recognition of co-parenting among homosexual couples and an implicit change to a family model that the European Union promotes and defends.

Other key measures within this report are an extension of maternity leave- raising it from 14 to 20 weeks, 6 of which are mandatory and fully paid, and introduced rules on breast-feeding as well. Many critics during the debate of this report, and previously in media, have attested to the lack of respect for the principle of subsidiarity, which was largely construed as an overstepping of EU competence and an interference with the sovereignty of the Member states regarding family policy.

Please find below the reports as voted:

Non-funding of coercive abortion:

Expansion of "paternity leave":

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