Commissioner for Human Rights concerned about planned changes to abortions

Dunja Mijatović points to repeated attempts to put forward proposals that would bring Slovak laws and practices into conflict with its international obligations.

Dunja MijatovićDunja Mijatović (Source: https://www.coe.int/)

After 111 international organisations expressed their concern about the draft amendment changing the rules for abortion, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, has warned against the planned changes.

“The new draft law again intends to introduce restrictions on accessing safe and legal abortion services,” Mijatović wrote in a letter addressed to Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár and three other chairs of the parliamentary committees, referring to the proposal of extending the mandatory waiting period from 48 to 96 hours and expand its application to all situations except when a woman’s health is at immediate risk.

Stigmatising women seeking an abortion

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Mijatović also mentioned the proposed introduction of a new authorisation requirement for performing abortions on health grounds, which would require two medical certificates attesting to such grounds, rather than one as currently, except in the case of urgent care provision.

Furthermore, other proposed changes such as the provision of information on abortion and the collection and sharing of personal information have the potential to form substantial barriers to accessing safe and legal abortion services, and stigmatising women seeking an abortion, Mijatović wrote.

The same applies to the proposed ban on ‘advertising’ abortion services.

Against international guidelines

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The measures are at odds with the guidelines of the World Health Organisation and other international organisations, Mijatović noted.

She urged the members of the Slovak parliament to reject any measures that would, in law or practice, lead to retrogression regarding the access of women to their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

“Furthermore, I would like to express my concern about the fact that, over the course of a relatively short period, repeated attempts have been made to put forward proposals that would bring the laws and practices of the Slovak Republic into conflict with its international obligations, and which would put the rights of women in the country at risk,” Mijatović wrote.

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