In June 2008, the Center and the Lithuania Family Planning and Sexual Health Association submitted a shadow letter on Lithuania to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which reviewed the country on July 2. Our letter focuses on discriminatory or inadequate laws, policies and practices related to the reproductive health and rights of women and adolescents. Specifically, it draws the Committee’s attention to pending legislation that would restrict abortion and the newly passed National Family Policy, which reinforces negative gender stereotypes. Other concerns raised are the lack of information about and access to modern contraception, and the government’s failure to provide youth with adequate sex education.
In its concluding observations, the Committee addressed all of the issues raised in the shadow letter. Specifically, it called on Lithuania to take concrete measures to enhance women’s access to health care, in particular to sexual and reproductive health services, and pointed out shortcomings in the National Family Policy. The Committee also showed deep concern about the pending restrictions on abortion, urging Lithuania “to ensure that the draft law is in line with the Convention and accordingly will not lead to women seeking unsafe medical procedures, such as illegal abortion, which may seriously risk their health and lives.” Lithuania was asked to provide the Committee with written information on the steps undertaken to implement these recommendations within two years.