European Union External Action

United States: Speech on behalf of High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell at the EP Plenary on the Texas law relating to abortion

Strasbourg, 07/10/2021 - 14:51, UNIQUE ID: 211007_33
HR/VP speeches

Delivered by Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides

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Closing statements 

Madame President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

Thank you for this timely discussion on the Texas Senate Bill relating to abortion. 

Ensuring the full enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights means enabling women and girls to make decisions about their bodies, free from discrimination, coercion and violence. 

In relation to health services, the European Union supports the promotion, protection and fulfilment of rights to autonomy in decision-making, as well as the rights to informed consent and confidentiality. 

The Texas Senate Bill that you bring to our discussion table today, restricts access to abortion services as early as 6 weeks of pregnancy and, further, it makes, no exceptions, for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape, which could have serious implications for the physical and mental health and well-being of the women affected.

This law, which went into effect on 1 September, has the potential of barring at least 85% of abortions in the state of Texas. It also uses a private-enforcement scheme by tasking private individuals to bring lawsuits against anyone who provides or aids an abortion, empowering in fact complete strangers to interfere in the most private and personal health decisions of a woman. 

The Commission and the High Representative trust that the US authorities will take all necessary steps to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions and welcomes the Biden Administration’s intent to launch a whole-of-government effort to that end. 

As a matter of fact there have been developments overnight in the ongoing legal proceedings which have blocked the Texas law, forbidding Texas State court judges to accept suits under the Texas Senate bill. This is a welcomed development. We also welcome the establishment of a Gender Policy Council to advance gender equity and equality, by increasing access to health care, addressing health disparities and promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights, and acknowledge the Biden Administration’s strong efforts to promote Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the US and around the world.

In our bilateral relations with the US, we engage in a comprehensive and open discussion on human rights, including on sexual and reproductive health rights in the US and the European Union. 

In our action plans, the European Union has committed to scaling up action to achieve gender equality, to protect and promote the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by [all] women and girls. We encourage our partners to adopt a similarly open and positive approach to this vital issue. 

Thank you for your attention. 

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-211471