Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe

The Estrela Report is back on the table - European parents expect the EP to act democratically

On 22 October a European Parliament report on “Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights” (SRHR) was referred back to the Committee on Womens’ Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM). It is indeed an exception for an initiative report, i.e. a report initiated by the Parliament itself, to be referred back to the competent committee as was the case with the report presented by Portuguese MEP Edite Estrela. Exceptional was also the number of amendments tabled for this report in the plenary vote. These facts point to the clear divide on the contents of the report within the EP, and the extremely vivid debate at the moment of the vote on 22nd October also illustrated that the issue of "SRHR", that is subject to subsidiarity, is an explicit overstepping of the mandate of the EU in this case represented by the democratically elected MEP.

Read more: The Estrela Report is back on the table - European parents expect the EP to act democratically

"Early Childhood Masturbation" for 0-4 years old as part of sexual education supported by the European Parliament?

Today the European Parliament will vote a motion for a resolution on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. Regarding Sexual Education, it refers to the report of the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe and the German Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) entitled ‘Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe: A framework for policy makers, educational and health authorities and specialists’ , published in 2010.  This is the sole reference included in the motion for a resolution. FAFCE considers this approach unworthy of all children in the EU, as well as deeply disrespectful of their parents who are the first and primary educators of their children. The motion for a resolution nevertheless only refers to the parents as "other stakeholders".

Read more: "Early Childhood Masturbation" for 0-4 years old as part of sexual education supported by the...

"Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights" - a proposal from the European Parliament unworthy of the EU

On Monday 21 October a Motion for a European Parliament Resolution on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights will be debated at the Plenary session in Strasbourg. The report presented by the portugese MEP Mrs Edite Estrela addresses many important issues such as maternal health and childhood care, the impact of pornography on youth, the sexualisation of young girls, and surrogacy motherhood. 

However, the motion for a resolution does not provide adequate responses to most of these issues. It also advocates in favour of issues that do not lie within the competency of the EU. FAFCE considers that the text is unworthy of the EU and its' citizens, this is why.

The motion for a resolution on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights outlines problems related to the health of women and mothers in Europe and beyond. All EU citizens are entitled to health care, protection and support. However, none of these issues find an appropriate reply in the text presented by Mrs Estrela.

Maternal and childhood care are only addressed with the concept of Sexual and Reproductive Rights, a concept commonly interpreted as including access to abortion. Abortion is moreover promoted by this text (para. 34) while as it is neither an EU competency, nor a topic on which there is a consensus among the Member States (recital. U). Only this week did 2 Member States express their position at the United Nations on the non-inclusion of abortion in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, namely Malta and Poland. Two countries that together with Ireland are specifically targeted by the report. The text also seeks to promote abortion through EU development aid (para. 80 and 87).

However, International law protects the right to life, of each and every person. So does the EU legislation that even goes to the extent of defining the existence of the human embryo from the moment of conception. A fact supported by over 1.3 million EU citizens who signed the European Citizens Initiative One of Us.

Relationship and Sexual education is necessary to prepare young Europeans for fulfilling and responsible relationships. Nevertheless, there is no EU competency in this matter and the first and primary educators, namely the parents, are only considered as “other stakeholders” by this text (para. 43). Such an approach is disrespectful as regards both the parents and their children. Along the same lines, the text calls for access for minors to contraceptives and abortion, without parental consent (para. 46). This is a repeated denial of the first and primary role parents play as educators.

The text aims at regulating the right to conscientious objection (para. 35) albeit freedom of conscience is a fundamental right and conscientious objection is recognised by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: “The right to conscientious objection is recognised, in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of this right.” (art. 10.2).

The right of children to know and be raised by both their mother and father is also threatened by this text that seeks to promote access to fertility treatments and medically assisted reproduction techniques for single and lesbian women (para 8).

With regard to the above, this report is inconsistent with the EU and national legislations; it expresses disrespect for the founding principle of subsidiarity as well as the fundamental right to freedom of conscience.

Above all, the report does not respect the inherent right to life of every person, whether an EU citizen or not. Such an attitude is not worthy of the EU. It is not worthy of the democratically elected representatives of the European people to promote such a text. It is not worthy of all those who are fathers and mothers, grandparents, uncles and aunts to limit themselves to such an approach regarding their children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces. Something better should be offered to Europe’s young and future generations.

With regard to the above, the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe, an NGO with a participatory status at the Council of Europe, representing family associations from 15 Member States calls on the Members of the European Parliament to offer a better alternative to the European families and vote against this resolution!

For more detailed information you can download our arguments below: "12 reasons to vote against the text, followed by question marks on what the EU could do to improve the situation of children, mother and fathers in Europe and beyond"


Sweden discriminates! Collective complaint against Sweden in favor of conscientious objection and respect for democratic procedures

Press Release - Brussels, 8 March 2013


Sweden lacks respect both for the fundamental freedom of conscience laid down by the European Convention on Human Rights and for the democratic proceedings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. On 7 March the FAFCE filed a collective complaint against Sweden on the grounds of lack of respect for articles 11 (right to protection of health) and E (Non-Discrimination) of the European Social Charter.

On 7 October 2010 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted resolution (1763(2010)) The right to conscientious objection in lawful medical care, a text that invites member States to develop comprehensive and clear regulations that define and regulate conscientious objection with regard to health and medical services.

The Swedish Parliament voted its own initiative resolution against this text in May 2011, despite the fact that the resolution was adopted according to the democratic process that regulates all decisions taken at the Council of Europe. By not respecting this fundamental right for any citizen across Europe, Sweden actually breaches the very principles that are the foundation of the Council of Europe: Human Rights, Rule of Law and Democracy:

“The Report of Christine McCafferty, “Women’s access to lawful medical care: the problem of unregulated use of conscientious objection”, that preceded the Resolution 1763, caused a debate in Sweden about freedom of conscience for health care workers. The Swedish standing Committee has remained negative to the content of Resolution 1763 and the Swedish delegation has been directed by the Swedish Government to take action to accomplish a “change” of this resolution.

On 11 May, 2011, the Swedish Parliament debated the report, Resolution 1763 and its recommendations after a report from the Foreign Affairs Committee. The prospect that medical professionals and health care workers might exercise freedom of conscience initiated a debate.  The Foreign Affairs Committee Report recommended that the Parliament should advise the Government to be “critical of the content of Resolution 1763” and consider “that the delegation should work to bring about a change in the nature of this resolution.” [1]The Left Party added a “reservation” suggesting that the Parliament ask for the abrogation of Resolution 1763. The Sweden Democrats, in contrast, expressed support for the Resolution in a separate reservation. The Swedish Parliament accepted the recommendation of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Sweden thus formally set itself against freedom of conscience for health care workers and against the goals of Article 11 of the European Social Charter.” (FAFCE’s collective complaint).

The Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe, FAFCE, a member of the INGO Conference of the Council of Europe and deeply attached to the values promoted by the latter has paid close attention since to the implementation of the resolution.

FAFCE’s President Antoine Renard stresses that “The right to conscientious objection is a safeguard for all of us, it provides a possibility for medical staff to enlighten their work by their conscience in relation to each one of their patients. The importance of conscience in the medical field grows every day as technology moves forward and medical staff is faced with ever more complicated decisions to make. Practising medicine is a human and moral activity, not just a technical one, as Hippocrates pointed this out centuries before our time.”

Considering that freedom of conscience is a fundamental right laid down by the European Convention on Human Rights and by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, and that its restriction is contrary to both these legal instruments and to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, the FAFCE has been very concerned with Sweden’s lack of respect for the principles set forth by the resolution, which have still not been implemented there.

Mr Renard explains that this is why the FAFCE has filed a collective complaint against Sweden: “We hope that our collective complaint against Sweden will raise international awareness of this lack of respect for the democratic procedure and for the fundamental right to freedom of conscience, there is no reason that Swedish medical staff should be deprived of a right laid down by several European human rights instruments”.  


Contact: Maria Hildingsson +32 4 70 20 39 18 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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