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Wednesday, 12 February 2003 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Aid for sexual health in developing countries

  Montfort (NI ).(FR) Mr President, Mrs Sandbæk’s report on the aid which the European Union can give in the area of health and rights concerning reproduction and sexuality in developing countries is based on a good intention.

We European women are lucky in that we are able to complete a pregnancy, have access to information and reconcile family life with professional life. How can we accept the fact that so many women experience difficulties which we in Europe are spared? However, we must not allow ourselves to make our aid conditional upon family planning. It would be absurd to impose our model on these women. It is vital to help these women to organise their society, their lives as women and mothers, in accordance with their traditions, their values and their culture.

Moreover, we cannot reduce issues involving women’s rights merely to those issues involving reproduction and sexuality. These women are pillars of their society. They should therefore have more access to education, information and training, and they must be able to pass on to their children all that they have learned, so as to enable their countries to experience real development, in which access to health and information will occupy its rightful place.

Although pregnancy and giving birth are the main causes of death or injury among women living in these developing countries, and although sexually-transmitted diseases occur more frequently in those countries, it is certainly not by suppressing pregnancy that we shall succeed in overcoming these problems. It is vital, in fact, to treat the causes, not just the consequences, by providing access to information, as I said just now, and by providing access to medicines, particularly generic medicines, as we said on Monday evening, so as to ensure that healthcare is not a luxury enjoyed by industrialised countries.

Mrs Sandbæk, you tell us that abortion will never be a form of contraception. In order to convince us, your report should have been more precise. The amendments which I tabled in committee and which provided an alternative to abortion, namely a reception centre for those women who choose to have their babies in spite of their difficult lives, should have been supported. I should like to thank Mr Ribeiro e Castro, who took up the amendments again, because health and rights regarding reproduction and sexuality will always be linked to the freedom and responsibility of every person. In this way I hope that these women will be able to exercise their responsibilities in complete freedom and without any pressure from our Western model.

Last updated: 10 August 2004Legal notice