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US: Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP Plenary on Abortion Rights

EEAS Press Team

Speech delivered by Executive Vice-President for An Economy that Works for People, Valdis Dombrovskis

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Madam Chair, Madam Minister [for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities of France, Isabelle Rome], Honourable Members [of the European Parliament], 

We welcome this opportunity to discuss the global situation regarding abortion. In the United States, the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling has guaranteed the access to abortion for almost 50 years. If the Supreme Court [of the United States] overrules Roe v. Wade, it would be a profound retrogression of a well-established constitutional right. 

President [of the United States, Joe] Biden said such a decision would be radical and mark a “fundamental shift” in the US law and put other rights into question, namely women's access to reproductive healthcare and control over their own lives and bodies. We fully share this concern, and indeed, consequences would be radical not only for the United States, but globally. This could notably lead to an increase of unsafe abortions. According to the World Health Organisation, around 45% of all abortions are unsafe, of which 97% take place in developing countries. Unsafe abortion is a leading – but preventable – cause of maternal deaths and morbidities.

The global trend over the past decades has been towards repeal of abortion bans. In the past 25 years, over 60 countries around the world have liberalised their laws and policies on abortion. 

The EU remains committed to being a leader on sexual and reproductive health and rights – an essential part of realising human rights. Our high ambition is clear in the EU Gender Action Plan III in External Action 2021–2025 and reflected in the European Consensus on Development

Concretely, the [European] Commission provides support to Member States in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals pertaining to this area. At the global level, we support interventions at bilateral, regional and global levels. The EU partners closely with the United Nations Population Fund and civil society actors working in this area. At the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the EU has been a staunch supporter of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

There is a continued need for engagement with our partner countries bilaterally, such as through human rights dialogues, and in multilateral fora, as well as through our global programmatic funding. 

Thank you.

Link to the video (starting at 07:33):

Closing remarks

Madam Chair, Honourable Members,

The debate today testifies your continued important engagement on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and notably abortion.

Our focus must be both internal and external in countering the pushback.

Within the EU, the [European] Commission supports regular exchanges between Member States and stakeholders on gender equality, such as under the Mutual Learning Programme in Gender Equality and in the frame of its Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme. [The EU] continues funding civil society, including sexual and reproductive health and rights.

We continue seeking ways to do more and strategically respond to these global developments in policy and programming and in [our] engagement with states and civil society.

Thank you.

Link to the video:

Peter Stano
Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
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Paloma Hall Caballero
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