By Hilary White

  STRASBOURG, March 19, 2008 ( – A committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has now officially recommended that those few countries in Europe that still restrict abortions should guarantee unrestricted access to abortion.

  The draft resolution from the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men says countries should “decriminalise abortion, if they have not already done so.” The Committee also recommended that sex education be made mandatory for young people. 

  The report from the Committee calls for the decriminalisation of abortion in all 47 member states and uses the list of justifications that are familiar to pro-life activists around the world: many “unsafe”, illegal abortions, a need for more artificial contraception to reduce abortion rates and “discrimination” against women in countries where the unborn have legal protection.

  The Committee criticised even those legal restrictions that did not specifically prohibit abortion, saying, “The repeated medical consultations required, the time allowed for changing one’s mind and the waiting time for the abortion all have the potential to make access to abortion more difficult, or even impossible in practice”.

“A ban on abortions does not result in fewer abortions, but mainly leads to clandestine abortions, which are more traumatic and more dangerous. The lawfulness of abortion does not have an effect on a woman’s need for an abortion, but only on her access to a safe abortion,” the report said.

  The PACE Committee’s report is scheduled for debate in the Assembly’s plenary session from 14 to 18 of April.

  Some conservative Austrian members of the Council of Europe are reported to be formulating a response to the resolution but no objections were raised in the Committee’s deliberations.   

  The Council of Europe, distinct from the Council or Parliament of the European Union, does not have legal authority under European treaties to require compliance, but nonetheless is an influential part of the European legal machinery and its recommendations are taken seriously in member states and the drafting of EU laws.

  Like most international and pan-European bodies, the Council of Europe is known among life and family advocates for its strong secularist bias and support for the full programme of the abortion and pan-sexualist movement and anti-Christian bias.

  John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), wrote today that the report will be used “as leverage towards the creation of a right to abortion on demand in international law, which has always been the most important and ultimate goal of the worldwide pro-abortion lobby”.

  The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, that carries out lobbying and education work in Europe, has asked that citizens contact their Council of Europe representatives to express concerns.

  To find contact information for national representatives on the Council of Europe:

  Read the Committee’s recommendations:

  Read related coverage:

  Council of Europe May Call for Abortion as a Right

  European Council to Hear Homosexual Activists for Mandatory “Gay Marriage” in Member States

  Council of Europe: Ban Creationism since it may become “Threat to Human Rights” and Democracy