‘Shocked’: EU Parliament removes Women’s Day video featuring anti-abortion rally
Images of the Croatian protest were later edited out of an official Parliament video.
BRUSSELS — The European Parliament removed a video it posted online to mark International Women’s Day Wednesday that contained images of a rally against abortion.
For a few seconds, the video showed an image of an anti-abortion protest in Croatia featuring a man holding a placard with the slogan: “Nine weeks from conception, it already sucks its thumb.”
Directly overlaid on the footage of the pro-life rally was the phrase: “And this European Parliament is fighting hard for women’s rights.”
Green Finnish MEP Alviina Alametsä wrote to POLITICO: “I am actually shocked. That is a such an embarrassing mistake from the European Parliament. Anti-abortion is definitely not the political line of this Parliament.”
“There is no intention to support any of this content, and it was a mistake,” said a spokesperson for the European Parliament.
Many European lawmakers have taken strong pro-choice stances on abortion. Malta is the only EU country where abortion is completely illegal, while Poland imposed a near-total ban in 2020.
As reported by POLITICO’s Brussels Playbook on Thursday, the same video flashed up the phrase “access to top jobs” over an image of French businesswoman Christine Ourmières-Widener, who was sacked as CEO of Portuguese state airline TAP Air Portugal on Tuesday.
On Facebook, the original video was immediately removed on Wednesday, then edited to remove the images of Ourmières-Widener and the Croatian rally and reposted the same day. However, on the Parliament’s main Twitter account, the video remained unchanged until Thursday morning, when it was removed and later reposted.
“The video was edited to ensure that it was aligned with the EP resolutions,” the Parliament spokesperson clarified.
The original video remains online on some of the Parliament’s other Twitter accounts.
The Parliament also drew criticism from women on Wednesday for holding an International Women’s Day event for parliamentarians and staff where three of the four speakers were men.
French Left MEP Leïla Chaibi told POLITICO: “Instead of giving women a chance to speak and permitting them to talk about the discrimination they face, the European Parliament — like on the other 364 days of the year — gives men the chance to speak, even when it’s about the rights of women.”
The Parliament defended the event, saying that its purpose was to underline the role men can play as allies in the push for gender equality.
A spokesperson for the parliamentary anti-harassment movement MeTooEP said: “What the European Parliament put forward as an institution on International Women’s Day shows that we still have a long way to go to being an exemplary institution, especially when it comes to gender-equality.”