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Startseite Urgent Actions 2019 11 Abortion rights at risk in Slovakia
UA 167/19
Slovakia
Abgeschlossen am 13. Dezember 2019
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5.12.2019: Great News!

Rejection of regressive abortion law is a victory for women’s rights

Following a vote today rejecting that would have forced women seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound scan of the embryo or foetus, Amnesty’s Senior Campaigner on Women’s Rights, Monica Costa Riba, said:

«Today’s vote is a victory for women and for reproductive rights. By rejecting this bill, lawmakers in Slovakia chose to protect women’s privacy and autonomy and reject any further roll back of women’s hard-fought rights.»

«Had it been adopted, this legislation would set a chilling precedent for Europe, severely obstructing women’s access to safe abortion care and violating Slovakia’s international human rights obligations. It would have undermined women’s privacy and autonomy and subjected them to harmful stigma, humiliation and degrading treatment.»

«This is a huge triumph for women and activists who spoke out and mobilized in Slovakia and internationally. We want to thank all those who took action and called on Parliamentarians to reject this harmful bill.»

Today’s vote was the final one as the Slovak Parliament is expected to go to a recess ahead of the March 2020 general elections.

Abortion rights at risk in Slovakia

AI-Index: EUR 72/1482/2019

Slovak MPs are debating a bill that aims to further restrict access to abortion. If passed, it would require women seeking abortion care to fulfil a number of mandatory requirements that are not justified by medical reasons and would undermine women’s privacy, personal integrity, autonomy in decision-making about health care and will subject them to harmful stigma, humiliation and degrading treatment. The Slovak Parliament must urgently reject this bill.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The Draft Law amending and supplementing Act No. 576/2004 Coll. on health care, services related to the provision of health care and amending certain acts as amended, and which amends and supplements certain acts was first tabled in the Slovak Parliament (National Council) last September. The bill is scheduled for discussion and adoption in the ongoing plenary session that runs until 13 December. Please see here for a complete list of Slovak MPs: https://www.nrsr.sk/web/?SectionId=60

If the legislation is adopted, Slovakia will be the only EU member state to impose on women a requirement to undergo mandatory ultrasound, view ultrasound images or listen to the «foetal heartbeat» for obtaining abortion care. If adopted, the legislation is expected to come into force in March 2020, setting a dangerous precedent for other countries in the EU.

The bill also seeks to prohibit «advertising» on abortion and to impose a fine of up to 66,400 Euros on those who order or disseminate it. This prohibition risks a chilling effect on the provision of access to information on sexual and reproductive health, including safe and legal abortion, by medical providers.

In line with the international human rights law and standards, everyone should be able to make their own decisions about their bodies and pregnancies and have access to sexual and reproductive health services including safe abortion.

On 18 October 2019, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights noted that women in the Slovak Republic already face multiple barriers to sexual and reproductive health services, including access to safe abortion and contraceptives. It warned against the bill currently in the parliament, which would further restrict these rights and create further barriers to healthcare.

On 18 November in a joint letter, more than 30 organisations from several countries called on all Slovak MPs to reject the bill aiming at restricting access to abortion in Slovakia. Similarly, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe has called for the rejection of the legislative proposal and any other legislative proposals that could limit women's access to their sexual and reproductive rights.

Under the European Convention on Human Rights, Slovakia is under a positive obligation to create a procedural framework enabling a pregnant woman to exercise her right to access lawful abortion. It is the responsibility of the MPs to ensure they protect the reproductive rights of women and girls in Slovakia.

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