Council of Europe Passes Abortion Resolution to Address Child Abandonment

By Hilary White

STRASBOURG, France, June 27, 2008 ( - As pro-life advocates in Europe feared, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) approved a resolution today that holds up abortion as a preferred solution to the problem of the abandonment of newborn children by vulnerable mothers.

Patrick Buckley of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), who spent the last few days lobbying in Strasbourg, said, "Of the assembly’s 636 members, just 65 attended the debate and only 40 voted. This is a sad reflection on what Europe in general thinks of the rights of the unborn." The resolution was approved by 39 votes to 1.

The PACE committee particularly derided the solution of "baby hatches", in which women can leave their newborn children in the care of health workers anonymously, saying they contributed to criminality and human trafficking. Increased access to contraception - and, failing that, abortion - was the preferred solution to infant abandonment, according to the resolution.

In the middle ages, the Catholic Church sponsored the creation of "foundling wheels" at hospitals where a mother could place her child in a kind of revolving cupboard and ring a bell to alert hospital workers to the child’s presence. These were provided specifically as an early pro-life measure to combat the problem of infanticide that was rife at the time.

The document called the reintroduction of foundling wheels "controversial" and said they contribute to child abandonment and to the "marketing" of children. "In many cases, the abandonment of children is considered a crime, and this system is seen by some as inciting crime and taking responsibility away from mothers."

"Adoption is closely tied up with abandonment, just as it is with child trafficking," the resolution’s drafters said. "[M]others in distress are not sufficiently well informed about the options open to them and that their vulnerability is exploited to persuade them in effect to abandon their newborn children."
  The resolution’s title describes abandonment as the "first form of violence against children". It calls the issue "complex" and says it "involves rights other than those of the mother, such as those of the child and the father" as well as women.

But abortion, as the solution proposed is, in fact, an earlier form of violence against children and violates the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that defines a child as any human being under the age of 18.

John Smeaton, the head of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said "The Council of Europe is out of control. Assembly members appear completely out of touch with the overwhelming majority of Europeans, who will be appalled that such a resolution has been pushed through."

"What kind of world do politicians live in where they call for the abortion of children in order to avoid their abandonment at birth?" he added.

Read related coverage:

Abortion Better than Adoption says European Parliamentary Assembly Proposal

Share this article