In many Council of Europe member States, both women seeking an abortion and women (and men) fighting for the right to free and safe abortions are subject to intimidation and violence by anti-choice activists. Stella Creasy, a British MP from the Labour Party, recently got targeted by anti-abortion group CBRUK following her pro-choice stance. In April 2019, anti-abortion protesters have repeatedly harassed women at several abortion clinics in the United Kingdom, including by calling them "murderers". The German doctor Kristina Hänel, who was sentenced for "advertising" abortion by simply informing about the procedure on a website, has become the victim of acts of harassment and forms of hate speech. Similar examples from across member States abound.
It is extremely regrettable that the victims of such violence and intimidation do not always get the protection they need and deserve by the police and other state institutions, and perpetrators of these kinds of violence are not always prosecuted. National authorities must facilitate a supportive environment in which a woman can fully exercise her human rights without intimidation. By withholding protection to victims, and failing to prosecute the perpetrators, States fail to meet their human rights obligations as laid out in, amongst others, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CETS No 210, “Istanbul Convention).
The Parliamentary Assembly should therefore make an inventory of the kinds of intimidation and violence committed in its various member States, and come up with clear recommendations as to how to effectively address these.