Slovakia’s Parliament rejects harmful restrictions on safe abortion care

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Today the Slovak Parliament rejected draft legislation that would have severely restricted women’s access to abortion care and subjected women to a series of humiliating and medically inaccurate and unnecessary requirements prior to accessing abortion.

 Today’s result was critical for the protection of women’s health and wellbeing in Slovakia. The sole purpose of the proposed legislation was to harass and humiliate women seeking access to safe and legal abortion care in Slovakia. We applaud the Slovak Parliament’s rejection of these regressive legislative proposals. We call on them to refrain from imposing further restrictions on women’s access to safe abortion care,” said Leah Hoctor, Regional Director for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We urge Slovakia to take steps to remove existing barriers to legal abortion and to ensure its laws are in line with World Health Organization standards and the recommendations of United Nations and other human rights mechanisms.”

The rejected legislation sought to require women to undergo mandatory ultrasound prior to abortion and to view and obtain the ultrasound images. It also sought to further delay women’s access to abortion on request by extending the current 48 hour mandatory delay to 96 hours. It also sought to force doctors to provide women with medically inaccurate and biased information on abortion, and to prohibit so called “advertising” on abortion and to impose a fine of up to 66,400 Euros on those who order or disseminate it.

All of the proposed requirements have no medical justification and contravene World Health Organization guideline. 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 expressed deep concern about the legislative proposals and urged Slovakia to avoid any retrogression in relation to women’s sexual and reproductive health rights. In November 2019, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Members of European Parliament, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health and the United Nations Working Group on discrimination against women and girls all expressed concerns about this regressive draft legislation and called on the Slovak Parliament to reject it.

On 18 November 2019 the Center for Reproductive Rights submitted a joint letter to the Slovak Parliament on behalf of over 30 civil society organizations from across the world urging the Parliament to reject the regressive legislative proposal and refrain from further attempts to restrict reproductive rights in Slovakia.