Activists call on the government to ensure access to safe abortions during the pandemic

Slovak NGOs joined the call, which highlights marginalised groups as suffering from the problem.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: SITA)

European governments must ensure safe and timely access to abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the main message of the call of dozens of international NGOs, including five operating in Slovakia.

As European countries work to address the pandemic, protect their populations, and meet the increased demand on health care workers and health care facilities, it is vital that they adopt measures to safeguard the health, human dignity, physical and mental integrity, as well as reproductive autonomy of women and girls in the region, they wrote in the letter.

“Women and girls are facing significant restrictions in safely accessing essential sexual and reproductive health services, particularly timely abortion care, post-abortion care, and emergency contraception,” they wrote.

Marginalised groups impacted

Such restrictions disproportionately impact individuals belonging to marginalised groups, the signatories continue, including women living in poverty, women with disabilities, Roma women, undocumented migrant women, adolescents, and women at risk or who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Related story:Coronavirus puts spotlight on neglected Roma communities Read more 

These restrictions also create unnecessary risks of exposure to COVID-19 for women and girls and their families, as well as for health care providers.

They are calling on the six European countries where abortion is illegal (Andorra, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Poland and San Marino) or severely restricted to urgently reform these laws, which place women’s health and lives at risk.

They also call on those countries where abortion is legal, but where clinical services are unavailable or difficult to access due to a range of barriers, including medically unnecessary requirements that oblige individuals to take multiple or unnecessary trips to health care facilities or undergo mandatory hospitalization, to urgently eradicate those barriers and ensure access to services.

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