On the 23rd June 12 NGOs and civil society organisations, including aditus foundation, sent a letter to our 6 MEPs asking them to support and vote in favour of the Matić Report. This Report on the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women’s health was presented for approval to the European Parliament by MEP Predrag Matić on the 24th June 2021.
The Matić report covers a number of areas relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the European Union. The report at the outset considers that sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to all aspects of sexuality and reproduction. It furthermore declares that all individuals have a right to make decisions governing their bodies, free from discrimination, coercion and violence.
Primarily, it identifies SRH as an essential component of good health and calls on Member States to guarantee the enjoyment of SRH services and rights for all with consideration for marginalised groups, including women from ethnic, racial and religious minorities, migrant women, women with disabilities, women without health insurance, LGBTI persons and victims of sexual and gender-based violence.
The report identifies a number of key services in order to achieve this:
- Access to safe, fair and circular menstrual products for all: widespread availability of toxin-free and reusable menstrual products and to counter the negative effects of the so-called tampon tax on gender equality.
- Comprehensive sexuality education benefits young people: universal access to scientifically accurate, evidence-based, age-appropriate, non-judgemental and comprehensive sexuality education and information for all primary and secondary school children.
- Modern contraception as a strategy for achieving gender equality: universal access to a range of high-quality and accessible modern contraceptive methods and supplies, family planning counselling and information on contraception for all, and addressing all barriers impeding access to contraception, such as financial and social barriers.
- Safe and legal abortion care anchored in women’s health and rights: abortion should also be a voluntary decision based on a person’s request, given of their own free will, in accordance with medical standards and availability, accessibility, affordability and safety based. Importantly for Malta, in a watershed moment the Report:
“Invites the Member States to review their national legal provisions on abortion and bring them into line with international human rights standards and regional best practices by ensuring that abortion at request is legal in early pregnancy and, when needed, beyond if the pregnant person’s health or life is in danger; recalls that a total ban on abortion care or denial of abortion care is a form of gender-based violence and urges Member States to promote best practices in healthcare by establishing available SRH services at primary-care level, with referral systems in place for all required higher-level care.”para. 35 – European Parliament resolution of 24 June 2021 on the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women’s health (2020/2215(INI))
- Access to fertility treatments: all persons of reproductive age have access to fertility treatments, regardless of their socio-economic or marital status, gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Maternity, pregnancy and birth-related care for all: access without discrimination to high-quality, accessible, evidence-based and respectful maternity, pregnancy and birth-related care for all, including midwifery, antenatal, childbirth and postnatal care, and maternal mental health support.
The Report was approved with 378 votes in favour, 255 votes against and with 32 abstentions. Only one Maltese MEP voted in favour, two abstained and two voted against.