On the same day a new Hungarian law restricting access to abortion entered into force, the European Parliament declared that Hungary is “no longer a democracy”.
The motion passed with 433 MEPs voting in favour, 123 against and 28 abstaining. The vote is symbolic, but it is the first time an EU institution has declared Hungary an “electoral autocracy”, putting pressure on the Commission and Council to take more aggressive action against the Orbán regime.
The European Parliament set out 12 areas of concern, among them elections, judicial independence, rights of minorities as well as concerns about academic and religious freedom. Today women’s reproductive rights should be added to the list.
Women seeking an abortion in Hungary will be obliged to “listen to the fetal heartbeat” before they can access the procedure, according to a new decree issued by the ruling Fidesz party. The “fetal heartbeat” rule is controversial and deemed medically inaccurate, especially in early pregnancy when the heart has not fully developed. Women will have to undergo an ultrasound which, according to Planned Parenthood, has “no medical purpose and serves only to humiliate women”. Equally patriarchal and humiliating, is the need for a woman to obtain the permission of her husband or partner in order to have a termination.
All these measures will make access to abortion in Hungary more difficult, putting women’s health and lives at risk. Hungary joins a regional trend of far-right religious forces trying to restrict women’s bodies while undermining democracy. The Left in the European Parliament condemns this decree, calls for its immediate retraction and stands with all those fighting to restore democracy and respect for fundamental rights in Hungary.
Left MEP Malin Björk (Vänsterpartiet, Sweden) said: “It’s symbolic and important that the on the same day Hungary’s restrictive abortion laws come into force, the European Parliament declares it no longer a full democracy. The authoritarian Right is threatening democracy across the EU, suppressing the rights of minorities and women. Today’s vote should be a call to action for the European Commission to suspend EU funds until the most basic democratic functions are in place.”