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Being able to decide about one’s own body is far from self-evident for women across the EU. Improvements in women’s rights have not prevented the right to safe access to abortion to remain a recurring topic of controversy and tension across Europe.
To take a national example, a milestone in Austria’s struggle for self-determined models of birth control was marked by the decision to regulate the period in 1973. Countering the conservative and far-right pressures, access to abortion in the first 12 weeks was eventually exempted from criminalisation. A compromise had to be found between complete liberalisation of abortion and outright criminalisation. Opposition to abortion had been (and still is) fierce.
In 1973, the landmark decision on abortion rights was made in the USA with the Roe vs. Wade ruling. Just 50 years later, this landmark decision was overturned, and access to reproductive rights was restricted again. Across Europe and within the EU institutions, progressive policy-makers are fighting for reproductive rights in the name of women’s most fundamental rights.
The new discourse analysis offered by Prof. Bérengère Marques-Pereira in the book ‘Abortion in the European Union: Actors, Issues and Debates‘ was at the heart of this event jointly organised by the Karl-Renner-Institut and FEPS on 03 October (18:00-20:00) in Vienna on the occasion of the international day for safe abortion marked a few days earlier. The book provides a comprehensive and up-to-date basis for better untangling the stakes around debates on abortion. The aim is to acquire a better overview of the actors supporting and opposing abortion and to identify similarities and differences between the countries whilst forging effective strategies for a feminist political agenda.
Petra Bayr, Austrian MP, member of the Council of Europe and President of European Parliamentary Forum (EPF)
Neil Datta, Executive Director at European Parliamentary Forum (EPF)
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