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Amnesty Urgent Actions
Startseite Urgent Actions 2020 09 Women’s access to safe abortion at risk
UA 128/20
Slovakia
Aktiv seit 10. September 2020 | Noch 25 Tage Laufzeit
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24.09.2020 Latest / new targets

Thanks so much for engaging in this action so far. International pressure is important and should continue ahead of the voting. Debate on the bill could happen from tomorrow and we expect a voting in second reading early next week. While not confirmed, the voting could be on Monday 28 September, ironically International Safe Abortion Day.

There is a lot of attention on the bill in Slovakia thanks to the national campaign led by the Slovak organisations and the international pressure and solidarity, including individual appeals, letters from international organisations etc.

As a result, there have been important and positive developments.

MPs in the Healthcare committee were split about the bill (5 against and 5 in favour) and they recommended against the proposed bill. Opinions of the committees do not have to be followed in plenary but in this case it may be a sign that things are changing. On the other hand, more recently, a group of 16 MP from OLANO (biggest party in Parliament) announced they are against the bill. If they keep this position at the time of voting, this is an important development. Finally, one MP has introduced a new amendment with the aim of removing some of the problematic elements of the bill. Amnesty Slovakia is analysing the text (it’s quite comprehensive) and seeking the opinion of national partners. The amendment could  be voted in plenary before the bill next week. In the meantime, our strategy has not changed and we keep focussing on ensuring the rejection of the bill.

New targets!!

With this in mind, we recommend to keep sending appeals to key MPs and we are adding three new targets from three parties that are part of the government coalition. MPs within the parties are split on the bill and on issues related to abortion. National organisations believe that targeting these three politicians in parliament might create additional pressure. All three targets are influential and voted to support the bill in first reading. The new three targets are:

Speaker of Parliament Mr. Boris Kollár (Sme): boris.kollar@nrsr.sk

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mr. Gábor Grendel (OLANO): gabor.grendel@nrsr.sk

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mr. Juraj Šeliga (Za Ľudí): jurajseliga@nrsr.sk

If possible, please prioritise these new targets for a final push. On the other hand, MP Anna Zemanová from SaS is less relevant as it is expected that MPs from this party will be voting against the bill.

Solidarity messages in social media, we recommend FB and Instagram as they are more popular in Slovakia and among the politicians. Please tag OLANO in your messages (FB @obycajni.ludia.a.nezavisle.osobnosti , Instagram Obycajniludia) and add the key hashtags #Wewontbesilent # #nebudemeticho

We will keep you updated. Thanks a lot!

22.09.2020 Latest update und FB

Please send e-mails, letters to targets now and within the next few days.
Although the proposed bill was set to be 'postponed' towards the end of the session (ending 30.9), as it seems from the numbered line-up of proposals in parliament that the program went faster and the proposed bill could be read in parliament (2nd reading) as soon as tomorrow, or Thursday/Friday. Then the proposed bill will be subjected to a vote post-2nd reading that could come as soon as Friday/Monday and the final 3rd reading (the final vote) could come right after. I know this must seem very chaotic and unclear, but this is the reason we need to step up the pressure now within tomorrow and end of the week, if your capacities allow.

Also, please tune in on 23 September in AI Slovakia Facebook Live debate online
debate in English
You are welcome to participate with questions.

Also again a huge thank you for the solidarity and mobilization so far, because it seems the pressure is working - MPs are responding. Those who were against and have abstained from the vote previously, have become increasingly vocal about not voting for the proposed bill this time. Even those MPs who supported the bill previously in the ruling coalition, are willing to discuss and negotiate. But we are not there yet! The support against the bill is still small compared to the support for the bill. Last update regarding the committees: Committee on healthcare has voted 5:5, so the resolution in the committee does not recommend to pass the proposed legislation. It’s a small victory, but 5:5 is still dangerously balanced for us and our cause.

Thank you for all the support and we won't be silent!

17.09.2020 Update

Thanks a lot for the engagement on this action. While not fully confirmed, the debate and voting of the vote could happen towards the end of the month, but this could change. National organisations are working non-stop to influence key politicians. The protest in front of the parliament organised by the organisations, while small because of Covid-19 restrictions, had a lot of national media attention.

We encourage you to keep sending appeals to the targets.

Thank you so much for your support!

If you have received an answer from MP Anna Zemanova, you can respond to her

Many of you have received an answer from MP Anna Zemanova (see an example of the replies received below marked in yellow). She is a member of SaS (Freedom and Solidarity). The party is part of the coalition government but didn’t support the proposed bill in the first reading. (She was not present in the plenary when it was first voted in August). Activists can respond to her with the following recommendations:

- welcome the response and the fact that she is not supporting the bill

-
urge her to use her influence to ensure that the rest of SaS MPs vote against the bill as if passed it will endanger the health and the life of women and girls in Slovakia;

-
urge her to talk to her coalition government partners, namely in OĽANO, Za Ľudí and Sme Rodina to withdraw and/or not support the bill


Letter received by many activists from MP Anna Zemanova:

Dear X,

on behalf of Member of Parliament, Ms. Anna Zemanova, please let me follow up her standpoint regarding Abortion Act. First of all, Ms. Zemanova completely understands your concerns regarding the Abortion Act in Slovakia. She will not support Abortion act out of personal convinction, however as a woman and mother understands reasons why women decide to undergo it. Based on legislation in force, Ms. Zemanova is glad that the number of abortions decrease. 

She believes there is no reason to change current Act, when it works efficiently. As a matter of fact, to believe in liberal society where no abortion exist, is basically utopia. As an environmentalist, she is devoted in cases such as pollution of drinking water in the region of Rye Island, which she concerns as a searing issue of our modern society.

Best regards,

Mgr. Diana Rendesová
Assistant of MP


16.09.2020: Press release

The press release in English and French concerning today’s protests in Slovakia has just been shared.

Women’s access to safe abortion at risk

AI-Index: EUR 72/3039/2020

The Slovak Parliament is currently debating a bill that if passed will impose new barriers on abortion care, endangering the health and wellbeing of women and girls, and all people who could be seeking an abortion, and violating their human rights. If enacted, the bill will create a dangerous chilling effect on the provision of lawful abortion care in Slovakia, and increase the harmful stigma surrounding abortion. The Slovak Parliament must urgently reject this bill.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The Draft Law which Amends and Supplements Act No. 576/2004 Coll. of Laws on Healthcare, Healthcare-related Services, and on Amending and Supplementing Certain Acts As Amended, and which Amends and Supplements Certain Acts (Print no. 154, 19.06.2020), was first tabled in the Slovak Parliament (National Council) in July 2020 by OLANO (Ordinary People and Independent Personalities), the biggest party of the government coalition.

The bill was passed in first reading in August and sent to three different committees for further debate in September. As of 9 September, the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee has supported the proposed bill and recommended for the legislation to be approved by parliament. The other two committees (Social Affairs Committee and Health Committee) should deliver their opinion in the upcoming days. The bill is expected to be voted in second reading during the plenary session starting from 16 September. If passed, it will be voted on in a third and final reading.

Abortions are permitted in Slovakia in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, over the last few years, the country has introduced laws and policies to make access to timely and safe and legal abortion services more burdensome. 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. This new bill will create additional barriers to health care and will have a heightened impact on women and girls from rural areas, living in poverty or victims of domestic and sexual violence.

It is not the first time the Slovak Parliament debates retrogressive legislation to obstruct safe access to abortion care. A bill tabled in November 2019 attempted to force people seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound scan of the embryo or foetus. The proposed measure was not justified by medical reasons and would have violated the person’s privacy, personal integrity, autonomy in decision-making about health care. Following national and international outrage the bill did not get the required votes and was dismissed.

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

 

Take action

  • Write an appeal by Email in your own words or use the model letter below.
  • Please take action before 22 October 2020.
  • Preferred language: English. You can also write in your own language.
  • INFO COVID-19: Mail delivery
    It is possible to send PRIORITY letters to almost all countries. Please check on the Website of the Swiss Post, in the Transit restrictions whether letters are currently being delivered to the destination country. If not, we ask you to use other communication channels - email, fax or social media, if available - for the delivery of your appeal and/or send it via the embassy with the request for forwarding to the named person.

Model letter

Dear Member of the Slovak Parliament,

I am extremely concerned about the renewed attempts to vote on a harmful bill that will further obstruct access to safe abortion care in Slovakia. Measures included in the bill such as doubling the mandatory waiting period and extending its application before accessing an abortion; the imposition of a requirement of a second medical authorisation for abortions on health reasons; and the obligation to state the reasons for seeking an abortion, are unjustified and do not fulfil a medical purpose. Instead, they will violate the human rights of those seeking an abortion and delay access to timely legal abortion care thereby placing their health and lives at risk.

It is also deeply worrying that the bill intends to prohibit the so-called «advertising» of abortion, which will restrict doctors’ ability to provide evidence-based information to women about abortion care and where to access lawful abortions in Slovakia.

The proposed bill is harmful to women and girls, and breaches Slovakia’s international human rights obligations to respect and protect the right to health, privacy, information, the right to be free from inhuman or degrading treatment and the principles of non-discrimination and equality in the enjoyment of rights, and contradicts the World Health Organization guidelines and clinical best practices.

An extensive analysis of the concerns about this bill are outlined in the letter signed by over 100 organisations from all over the world and sent to all parliamentarians on 7 September, available at the following link: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur72/3021/2020/en/ .

I urge you to take into account the content of the above-mentioned letter and to take all necessary steps to ensure the Slovak Parliament rejects this retrogressive bill and refrains from further attempts to restrict reproductive rights in Slovakia.

Yours sincerely,

Appeals to

Mr Boris Kollár
Speaker of Parliament (SME)
Email: boris.kollar@nrsr.sk

Mr Gábor Grendel
Deputy Speaker of Parliament (OLANO)
Email: gabor.grendel@nrsr.sk

Mr Juraj Šeliga
Deputy Speaker of Parliament (Za Ľudí)
Email: jurajseliga@nrsr.sk

Mr Michal Šipoš
MP and Chairman parliamentary group of OLANO
(Ordinary People and Independent Personalities)
Email: michal.sipos@nrsr.sk

Mr Peter Pčolinský
MP and Chairman parliamentary group SME
(We are Family)
Email: peter.pcolinsky@nrsr.sk

Ms Anna Zemanová
MP and Chairman parliamentary group SaS
(Freedom and Solidarity)
Email: anna.zemanova@nrsr.sk

Ms Jana Žitňanská
MP and Chairman parliamentary group of Za Ľudí
(For the People)
Email: jana.zitnanska@nrsr.sk

Mr Robert Figo
MP and Chairman parliamentary group of SMER-SD
(Direction-Social Democracy)
Email: robert.fico@nrsr.sk

Mr Peter Pellegrini
MP and leader of HLAS-SD
(Voice-Social Democracy)
Email: peter.pellegrini@nrsr.sk

 

 

Copies to

Ambassade de la République Slovaque
Thunstrasse 63
3074 Muri b. Berne

Fax: 031 356 39 33
E-mail: emb.bern@mzv.sk
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