European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Extremist hate campaign is nothing short of an attack on women in Europe and worldwide

ILGA-Europe stands with our friends from International Planned Parenthood – the hateful agenda against sexual reproductive health and rights is an attack on all of us. Women’s fundamental rights are under direct attack by a group of extremist right winged Members of the European Parliament. The group is spearheading an unprecedented aggressive and misleading ‘hate campaign’ against International Planned Parenthood manufactured by fundamentalists in the US and their affiliates in Europe.

[Statement from International Planned Parenthood Federation Europe]

In the latest series of unrelenting attacks on women’s rights, 19 MEPs have spearheaded an unprecedented ‘hate campaign’ against IPPF manufactured by fundamentalists in the US and their affiliates in Europe.

Although the accusations have been discredited, and despite an unequivocal lack of any legal proof or credible documentation, these MEPs are targeting IPPF and its work to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights for all in over 150 countries.

Anti-choice campaigners have written duplicitous letters to President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, calling on IPPF to be banned from any further events at the European Parliament. This is not only an infringement on free speech and IPPF employees’ rights as EU citizens, but an affront on all women, men and young people served by IPPF Member Associations worldwide, including our U.S. Member Association, Planned Parenthood of America (PPFA), who are consistently targeted by radical opposition groups. In addition, anti-choice MEPs have sent a letter to the Luxembourg Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, requesting the withdrawal of patronage for the European Week of Action for Girls 2015, if IPPF remains one of the co-organisers. This request has been disregarded.

Statements have also been sent to MEPs with misleading and factually inaccurate information on IPPF services by the religious opposition group, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF International) and partners, who are hosting an anti-choice event at the European Parliament next week. Among the panellists is Lila Rose, a hard-line fundamentalist from the US, who has a long-standing grudge against PPFA.

Parliamentary questions on these accusations have already been dismissed by EU Development Commissioner Mimica [see full response below]: “Suspending these [life-saving treatments] could result in risking women's and their babies' lives, as adequate support during pregnancy and childbirth might no longer be available, or in an increase in unwanted pregnancies due to unavailability of family planning.”

The debate on abortion should not influence and dictate the provision of other essential services to millions of women, men and young people. IPPF calls on all MEPs to see through the wild and baseless accusations made by a few ill-informed MEPs and support the provision of vital health care for women everywhere.

This latest onslaught on women’s healthcare was catapulted into the US mainstream media through the release of a series of deceptively edited videos, the makers of which are currently being sued due to continued illegal activity *. These videos have been used to drive a worldwide smear campaign to defund PPFA and IPPF, which would cut off access to health care for millions of women, men, and young people.

IPPF proudly stands with PPFA, championed by President Barack Obama as the most trusted women’s health care provider in the U.S [click to watch the video]. PPFA provides high-quality health care to women across the US, particularly to those who cannot afford it.

Over the past few years, Europe has witnessed a similar rise in extreme right-wing populist movements against sexual and reproductive health and rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights propelled by US-based evangelical funders. These fringe opposition groups attempt to create a climate of fear by regularly protesting outside IPPF Member Association offices and harassing staff.

IPPF Member Associations work in some of the world’s poorest countries where women are denied access to sexual and reproductive health and rights through violence, abuse and coercion, and through criminalisation and discrimination. Gender-based power inequalities mean that individuals face barriers to decisions affecting their own bodies. IPPF believes that all women, regardless of economic status should receive healthcare and has provided 82.5 million obstetric and gynaecological services to women worldwide [see IPPF and IPPF EN annual reports].

This virulent combination of anti-feminism and opposition to abortion is threatening human rights, in particular women’s rights to access life-saving health treatments. In doing so, it will halt progress and detract from the all the advances made in the last 15 years since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals. The year 2015 has been an historic year for development, and now more than ever we need to combat inequalities and promote women’s empowerment.

 


 

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