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Commissioner urges the Slovak Parliament to reject bill which would further restrict women’s access to their sexual and reproductive health and rights

Letter
Strasbourg 10/09/2020
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Commissioner urges the Slovak Parliament to reject bill which would further restrict women’s access to their sexual and reproductive health and rights

Today the Commissioner published a letter in which she raises concerns about a draft law currently under discussion in the National Council of the Slovak Republic which would introduce restrictions on access to safe and legal abortion services.

The letter was sent on 7 September to the Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic and to the Chairpersons of the Committees on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Health Care and Social Affairs.

In her letter, the Commissioner refers to two proposals in particular. Firstly, the proposal to extend the mandatory waiting period from 48 to 96 hours, and to expand its application to all situations except when a woman’s health is at immediate risk. Secondly, the proposal to introduce a new authorisation requirement for performing abortions on health grounds, that would require two medical certificates attesting to such grounds, rather than one as is currently the case, except in the case of urgent care provision.

Furthermore, she warns that other proposed changes, such as those concerning the provision of information on abortion, the collection and sharing of personal information and the proposed ban on ‘advertising’ abortion services may form substantial barriers to accessing safe and legal abortion services, and stigmatise women seeking an abortion.

The Commissioner stresses that the proposed measures run counter to World Health Organisation guidelines, as well as specific recommendations to the Slovak Republic by international human rights bodies, including her Office. She therefore urges the members of the National Council of the Slovak Republic to reject any proposed measures that would, in law or practice, lead to retrogression as regards the access of women to their sexual and reproductive health and rights.