European Parliament rejects report calling for educating infants about masturbation, sexual left flabbergasted

Wendy Wright and Rebecca Oas | VP, Associate Director of Research, C-FAM

MEP Edite Estrela exploded in anger on the floor of the European Parliament last week. Her fellow Parliamentarians had just rejected – again – a report, named after her, declaring abortion a human right and calling for sex ed that teaches newborns about masturbation.

They were guilty of “hypocrisy and obscurantism” charged Estrela, a Socialist from Portugal.

“I’m not afraid of you!” she shouted. “I know I’m right!”

A few weeks before, the same report set off a fiery exchange in the Parliament. Some complained the lengthy document was afforded only five minutes to discuss, adding to suspicions that the intent was to slip it through without scrutiny.

The Estrela report called for abortion with no restrictions, compulsory sex education in mixed-sex settings beginning with newborns, and assisted medical procreation for lesbian couples. Countries are to eliminate parental involvement laws, require health providers commit abortions, guarantee funding to groups dispensing sexual and reproductive health services, and provide abortions to non-residents. Countries must ensure children can be given – and give out – information on sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The sex education curriculum recommended was “Standards for Sexuality Education” by the World Health Organization. Its guidelines begin with:

Ages 0 – 4 years, “Give information about enjoyment and pleasure when touching one’s body, early childhood masturbation,” and “Give the right to explore gender identities.”

Ages 4 – 6 years, “give information about same-sex relationships,” and “Help children develop respect for different norms regarding sexuality.”

One abortion activist said the Estrela report would “advance sexual and reproductive health and rights – not only for Europe but on a broader international level!”

The phrase “sexual and reproductive health” has been a source of controversy for twenty years. The term was introduced in a UN document at a 1994 conference in Cairo. At the time, the Clinton administration ignited a worldwide brouhaha when they first vowed to create an international right to abortion through the Cairo meeting, then backed off after a massive push-back inspired by Pope John Paul II.

What does it mean? Many countries went out of their way to enter into the record that, for them, it does not include abortion. No government said it did.

Since then, abortion advocates – inside and outside governments – have conducted an unrelenting, by-hook-or-by-crook campaign to get what they couldn’t at Cairo. One tactic is to simply redefine the phrase to mean whatever they choose.

A few years ago, the newly-minted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shocked a congressional committee. She was not naïve to the roiling history and delicate negotiations to gain UN approval of the phrase – she was deeply engaged in them as First Lady.

Nevertheless, she stated – like an article of faith – that she believes it includes abortion. It was a bull-in-a-china-shop moment, challenging the carefully constructed agreement among nations.

One country alone – even the powerful U.S. – cannot change a universal agreement. A union of countries would have a better chance.

But what if that union contains members with varying beliefs on abortion? Malta, Ireland, and Poland outlaw abortion. Every European country – including Estrela’s Portugal – has restrictions.

The Estrela report was a subversive document. It indicated the breadth of policies activists planned to attach to “sexual and reproductive health.” While not legally binding, if adopted it would be an official document of the European Parliament and potentially used to promote removing limitations on abortion in European Union countries, and in international settings such as the UN.

Estrela and her allies intended to set a standard for the European Union – particularly as nations enter negotiations next year at the UN for the 20-year review of the Cairo agreement.

Estrela credited groups like Planned Parenthood (the largest abortion provider) with drafting the report. Many of them get the bulk of their funding from European institutions. It’s a cozy relationship.

But before the Estrela report slipped through unnoticed in the European Parliament’s flurry of documents, it got noticed. By thousands of Europeans.
“We are facing a gigantic opposition campaign from highly organized radical religious groups!” wrote Planned Parenthood’s Irene Donadio. “It seems that they are succeeding with many!!!! We have never seen something like this before!!!”

Donadio credited the massive opposition to “One of Us,” a European-wide petition campaign to protect the youngest humans. Pro-life groups throughout Europe had been working together for months to collect one million signatures to protect human embryos. The campaign closed on November 1 with over 1.8 million signatures – the largest response for a petition since the European Commission created this path for citizens to request legislation.

Some believe the Estrela report was an attempt to undermine the One of Us campaign. What pro-lifers were achieving through participatory democracy, abortion advocates planned to render moot through bureaucracy.

What they did not plan on was pro-life groups alerting people through the networks created through the One of Us campaign. Parliamentarians were inundated with e-mails, calls – and demonstrations on the day they took up the Estrela report.

“Few reports have been so controversial as the scandalous Estrela report,” said Bernd Posselt of Bavaria on the floor of Parliament. “Any controversial report must be debated; anything else would be undemocratic.”

The European Parliament then voted to send it back where it came from – the Women’s Rights Committee. A polite way of shelving it.

That committee, as one detractor said, is “a sheltered workshop for feminists and gay rights activists.” Instead of getting the courteous message, the chair of the committee vowed to pass it again and banned any amendments.

The committee kept all the demands for abortion. They dropped the reference to the graphic World Health Organization textbook, yet kept a general call for sex education. But now people knew what kind of curriculum they had in mind.

The report was rushed back to Parliament to be put on the agenda for December 10 – Human Rights Day.

Pro-life groups mobilized again. Members of Parliament received hundreds of e-mails daily, complained Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the Parliament’s LGBT group. This was unsettling to her. European institutions, as well as the UN, are used to working in isolation, only hearing from groups largely funded by them, radical billionaires, and wealthy foundations.

Homosexual and abortion groups lobbied for it. They would profit handsomely if countries followed the report’s urgings.

Many anticipated this vote would reverberate beyond Europe.

In a letter to European Parliament members, Amnesty International argued “a strong and progressive [European Union] position on gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights is crucial in the current climate.”

On December 10, when the Estrela report came up again, parliamentarians quickly voted to replace it. Their alternative reaffirmed the 1994 UN Cairo agreement stating that countries have the right to set their own standards on abortion and sex education.

Estrela demanded the report not bear her name.

This turn of events, spurred by massive citizen participation, upended the system of rule-by-bureaucracy that she counted on. Estrela lashed out at her colleagues on the floor of Parliament for not accepting the Women’s Rights Committee report. It was terrible, as she saw it, that “the most extremist and fundamentalist movements should have prevailed over the will of members.”

Nuno Melo, also from Portugal, immediately rose to rebuke her for insulting people for having different opinions. “A true democrat is pleased to win and equally accepts defeat,” he said. “With that last statement, she showed that she is only a democrat when it suits her.”

Surely to Estrela’s chagrin, the European Parliament instructed the new report be forwarded to all European Union countries and the UN Secretary-General.

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