The Slovak Parliament has recently passed amendments to the abortion law that would restrict access to legal abortion services. The Center and its partners are steadfastly advocating against their passage.
In early June 2009, the Center initiated a sign-on letter which was joined by dozens of other international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) to Slovak government officials and members of parliament setting forth health and human rights arguments against the restriction. The submission identified the three most objectionable aspects of the proposed amendments:
1) Mandatory counseling requirement
2) A waiting period, and,
3) Mandatory parental/guardian consent requirement for minors.
The amendments in question would constitute direct violations of women’s rights to privacy, physical integrity and autonomy, confidentiality, health, and non-discrimination.
To illustrate this, the collaborative letter highlighted legal precedent set by Tysiac v Poland, a case that the Center supported with an friend-of-the-court brief in 2005, wherein the European Court of Human Rights decided that abortion legislation cannot unduly restrict a woman’s ability to obtain a legal abortion. The letter also emphasized where extreme health risks can arise when access to legal abortion is restricted or stalled. The letter cites multiple recommendations by the World Health Organization stating that limits (specifically in the form of counseling, waiting periods, and/or guardian consent) should be avoided as they can increase the likelihood that a woman will pursue a clandestine or unsafe abortion.
Although the amendments were passed by the Slovakian Parliament (with only seven votes against), they have not yet been signed by the President. It is noteworthy that the Slovakian Ministry of Health has asked the President to veto the bill, the Center continues to work with its partners against these amendments.