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The election results show that providing funding for abortion at EU level is urgent, supporters say

Women’s rights activists say rising support for the far right in Europe has made efforts to fund abortion at EU level even more urgent than before.

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Campaigners working to secure a European-level funding mechanism for abortion say the election results have made the effort even more urgent than before.

Although pro-European parties will retain a majority in parliament, the election results will: increased support for the extreme right what polls have been predicting for weeks.

In France, the far-right National Rally (RN) came first with 31% of the vote, a rebuke to Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party, which came second with 15% of the vote.

Far-right parties took first place in Austria and Italy, and made gains in Germany and Spain.

For European women’s rights activists running the “My Vote, My Choice” campaign, these results highlighted the need for abortion funding at EU level. In their opinion, this is partly a fight against extreme right-wing parties that support limiting access.

The campaign aims to provide the European Commission with funding so that EU member states can provide services to “anyone in Europe who still does not have access to safe and legal abortion.”

It was an initiative that was particularly supported by Polish activists who worked to repeal the almost complete ban on the procedure in the country.

Polish women’s rights activists told Euronews Health that if they fail to change the law in Poland, where the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party has supported hard restrictions on abortion for years, they will take the issue to the EU level.

The push for abortion funding at the European level gained further impetus after the French parliament voted to amend its constitution to make terminating a pregnancy a “freedom” in response to many U.S. states passing laws restricting access.

While the National Council’s leaders voted in favor of the measure, some right-wing and far-right parliamentarians abstained or voted against it.

Activists from many EU countries have already collected half of the signatures needed for the citizens’ initiative and hope to start talks with the European Commission and Parliament about these efforts soon.

Can the election results influence the campaign?

Alice Coffin is coordinating the My Vote, My Choice campaign in France and traveling to far-right strongholds to collect signatures.

“I have very good reasons to believe that this (European) parliament, still in its current state, is capable of voting (on this measure),” Coffin told Euronews Health, adding, however, that it would be a “political fight.”

“If France managed to find a majority in the French Senate to vote to introduce abortion into the constitution, I am sure that we will be able to find a majority in the European Parliament that will be able to vote,” she added.

However, she said: “It will be more complicated and, above all, what (election results) show is that such an initiative (voting) is even more urgent.”

Spanish coordinator Kika Fumero, an expert on sexual and gender-based violence, agreed that as far-right parties gain seats in Europe, it may become more difficult to obtain funding for reproductive rights in general.

“As the right and far right gain power in the European institutions (and at national level), it will become increasingly difficult to legislate or design public policies, such as a program to finance so-called supporting competences, which include sexual and reproductive rights and, more specifically, abortion,” he said. Fumero.

“In some cases, it will even be impossible, depending on the number of votes needed… (so) the election results have a direct impact on obtaining European funds for the development of public policies in this area,” she added.

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For Coffin, the election results show that it is increasingly urgent to “forge practices, reflections, communities of resistance and struggle beyond traditional political parties.”

The results in France also “reinforce” the importance of including abortion in the constitution, she said.