Z., a young pregnant woman from one of Moldova’s poorest regions, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for having an abortion at home. , On February 9, 2009, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Moldovan Institute for Human Rights filed a complaint on her behalf against Moldova before the European Court of Human Rights. ,
Filing date: February 2009
Plaintiff(s): Z., a woman who underwent a self-induced illegal abortion.
Center Attorney(s): Christina Zampas
Summary: In May 2006, Z., a young pregnant woman from one of Moldova’s poorest regions, had an abortion at home. , Suffering from severe blood loss, she rushed to a local hospital, only to be reported to the police by doctors and then detained.
Even though there is no criminal penalty under Moldovan law for women who have illegal abortions, Z. was charged with intentional and premeditated murder. , In December 2006, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison. ,
She will be 45 years old by the time she is released from jail.
Sex Discrimination in Moldova’s Law Enforcement System
Women in Moldova who become pregnant outside of marriage as well as those who have abortions are generally stigmatized by society. , Unsurprisingly, Z. encountered rampant sex discrimination throughout her detention, prosecution, and trial.
While awaiting trial in prison and experiencing continuous bleeding, she was humiliated by male prison guards and denied appropriate post-abortion care. , The prosecution and the courts, meanwhile, repeatedly made biased remarks against her based on gender stereotypes and anti-abortion attitudes.
Lawsuit before the European Court of Human Rights
On February 9, 2009, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Moldovan Institute for Human Rights ,(IDOM) filed a complaint on behalf of Z. against Moldova before the European Court of Human Rights. ,
The complaint charges that Moldova violated a number of rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. , These include the rights to liberty, security, and a fair trial, as well as the right to be free from inhumane and degrading treatment, not to be convicted for a crime and punished with no basis in law, and not to be discriminated against based on sex. ,
In addition to the release of Z., the case seeks to ensure that Moldovan law enforcement adheres to the country’s abortion and criminal laws and does not treat women who undergo illegal abortions as criminals. , Discrimination by law enforcement should be condemned and laws should be put in place to prevent and punish such acts. ,
The case also aims to make post-abortion care an essential component of healthcare and ensure it is provided in all settings, including prisons.
The Moldovan Pardoning Commission granted a pardon to Z., who was released from prison on January 31, 2012. The Center and IDOM are continuing to fight for
justice in this case to hold the Moldovan government accountable for the human rights violations committed against Z. Her case is still pending before the
European Court of Human Rights.