And again a delicate question

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is once again addressing an ethically controversial ie this week. This time, the position on abortion is on the agenda. In the past, the 636 parliamentarians from the 47 member states of the confederation had already discussed such sensitive ies as euthanasia and, most recently in the fall, creationism.

Now a report by the Austrian Social Democrat Gisela Wurm is up for debate, which calls for exemption from punishment for abortions in all Council of Europe member states. Expected to be voted on Wednesday. The Equality Committee has already approved the bill by a large majority.Wurm points out that abortion is legal in all Council of Europe countries except Andorra, Malta, Ireland and Poland. However, in some cases there are also obstacles in the other countries that make access to abortion difficult. It called for accepting the choice of the women concerned. The draft calls on Council of Europe member states to remove all obstacles, legal or practical, to access to risk-free abortion. The costs of this would have to be covered in an appropriate manner.But the draft report also explicitly states that abortion is not a means of family planning. As many abortions as possible should be avoided. Measures to achieve this included sex education in schools and contraceptives at affordable prices.

Debates in Poland and Mal First reactions to the draft report have already been seen in Poland. There, politicians from the right-wing liberal ruling Civic Platform party and the conservative opposition rejected calls for impunity in abortion cases. The leader of the opposition alliance Left and Democrats (LiD), Wojciech Olejniczak, on the other hand, spoke out in favor of relaxing the ban on abortion. Abortions are exempt from punishment in Poland only after rape, incest, as well as in cases of serious harm to the unborn or danger to the life of the pregnant woman.The vote of the Council of Europe's Committee on Gender Equality was also rejected in Malta. Justice Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici recalled that the decisions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe are not binding.Malta also negotiated a clause when it joined the EU that EU law should not affect the island state's position on abortion. His country maintains that assistance in emergency situations is better help. Abortion is not a solution, says Mifsud Bonnici.In fact, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe cannot force changes in the law. With their recommendatory character, the panel's votes nevertheless influence the decisions of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, for example in the drafting of legally binding conventions.By Christoph Lennert (KNA)

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