Human rights commissioner urges Slovak MPs to reconsider amendment on reproductive rights

This is not the first time Dunja Mijatović has addressed a letter to Slovak MPs.

Protester in Bratislava, October 18, 2021Protester in Bratislava, October 18, 2021 (Source: SITA)

Slovakia's upcoming parliamentary session, where a ‘law on assistance to pregnant women,’ which tries to set several limits to their access to safe abortions, should be discussed in the second reading, has caught the attention of Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović.

She addressed a letter to Slovak MPs on October 19, the day when the parliamentary session begins, expressing her concerns about such legislation.

“Several proposals in the draft law would introduce restrictions on women’s access to safe and legal abortion services, which would bring the Slovak Republic into conflict with its international human rights obligations and put women’s health and reproductive rights at risk,” Mijatović wrote in the letter.

Another letter concerning reproductive rights

It is not the first time Mijatović has addressed a letter to Slovak MPs specifically on the issue of women's reproductive rights. She acknowledged that this is the third time in three years that she has felt compelled to express her serious concerns about such proposals, several of which mirror those already addressed in her letters to parliament in November 2019 and September 2020.

“I welcome that problematic amendments were rejected by members of the National Council of the Slovak Republic on those occasions, and I strongly urge you to ensure yet again that no amendments are adopted that would fall short of European and international human rights and health standards,” she wrote.

The draft amendment proposes to prolong the mandatory waiting period for abortion from the current 48 hours to 96 hours, even though Anna Záborská (OĽaNO) who submitted the proposal with other MPs, claims that it is a mistake and it should be 72 hours.

Limiting information

The amendment also proposes a ban on abortion ‘advertising’. Mijatović stresses that it would prevent health care professionals from publicly providing information about safe abortion services and their availability, which is crucial to ensuring women’s access to such services and the full enjoyment of their right to sexual and reproductive health.

The proposed amendments seek to eliminate the current requirement that doctors provide information on contraceptive methods and their use. Mijatovć also recalls that any new regulations in regards to the collection and sharing of information should not adversely affect the right to privacy and should not have a stigmatising or chilling effect on women seeking access to abortion services.

“None of these concerns are new,“ she claimed. “Apart from my interventions, these have been addressed in relation to Slovakia by numerous international human rights bodies over the years.”

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