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Civil society organisations take up action against “One of Us” anti-choice petition

Pro-life groups launched the “One of Us” anti-choice petition to call for a ban on EU funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programmes and services in developing countries. A ban could undermine international efforts to reduce maternal mortality as well as the fight against HIV/AIDS, child marriage and sexual abuse. The European Parliament is holding a public hearing on April 10 where the petition will be presented. In a letter to the European Commission a broad alliance of civil society organisations express their concern about this petition.

The “One of Us” movement, comprised of primarily independent anti-abortion Roman Catholic groups, aim to ensure that no EU funding will be allowed for activities that destroy human embryos, or that presume their destruction. In addition, they aim to prohibit EU from “directly or indirectly” funding abortion services in developing countries by banning funding to organisations that “encourage or promote abortion”. This could negatively affect a whole range of SR HR programmes and services.

Civil society organisations, such as the EATG and Amnesty International, fear the implications of a ban would be devastating. Complications from pregnancy, childbirth and unsafe abortions are among the leading causes of death for women aged 15-49 in low and middle-income countries. In total, 800 women die every day due to these complications. These deaths are largely preventable if adequate measures are put in place to ensure access to essential sexual and reproductive health services. These measures include education and information about sexuality and reproduction, access to contraception and family planning, maternal health services and treatment of the consequences of unsafe abortion. Banning funding would affect all these services, and would put the most vulnerable populations at risk.

In the letter to the European Commission organisations stress they uphold the basic human right to access these sexual and reproductive health services in accordance with UN and EU values and consensus. Many of our organisations provide essential, life-saving SRHR services to millions of women, young people and men around the world. They therefore call on the European Commission to maintain its strong commitment to SRHR and continue in its leadership role in this area and urge the Commission to refuse to act on this initiative.

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