Breaking: Slovakia’s Parliament Rejects Harmful Restrictions on Abortion Care

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Today, the Slovak Parliament once again rejected pending legislation that would have introduced new regressive restrictions on women’s access to abortion care and subjected women to a series of harmful and medically unnecessary requirements prior to abortion.

The result of today’s vote was critically important for the protection of women’s health and wellbeing in Slovakia,” said Adriana Lamačková, senior legal adviser for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights.The sole purpose of the proposed legislation was to introduce new barriers to women’s access to abortion care in Slovakia. We applaud the Slovak Parliament’s rejection of these regressive legislative proposals and call on them to refrain from imposing further restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. We urge Slovakia to take steps to remove existing barriers to legal abortion and to move its laws fully into line with World Health Organization standards and the recommendations of international human rights mechanisms.”

The retrogressive legislative proposals sought to impose new delays on women’s access to abortion by extending the current 48-hour mandatory waiting period to 96 hours. They also sought to require the certification of two doctors, instead of one, in situations where an abortion is necessary for medical reasons. In addition, the bill sought to prohibit so-called “advertising” of abortion and to introduce a requirement obliging women to state their reasons for seeking an abortion and to provide other private information when requesting an abortion.

All of the proposals had no medical justification and contravene World Health Organization guidelines. Had they been adopted they would have moved Slovakia into non-compliance with the international obligation to ensure non-retrogression in the field of human rights. The United Nations has repeatedly called on Slovakia to remove barriers to and ensure access to safe and legal abortion. In October 2019, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights explicitly urged Slovakia to avoid any retrogression in relation to women’s sexual and reproductive health rights. In September 2020, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), the International Federation of Professional Abortion and Contraception Associates (FIAPAC), and Members of the European Parliament all expressed concerns about these regressive  proposals and called on the Slovak Parliament to reject them.

On 7 September 2020, the Center for Reproductive Rights submitted a joint letter to the Slovak Parliament on behalf of 111 civil society organizations from across the world urging the Parliament to reject the regressive legislation and refrain from further attempts to restrict reproductive rights in Slovakia.