Today the Commissioner published a letter she had sent to the National Council of the Slovak Republic in which she raises concerns about a draft law currently under discussion that would introduce restrictions on access to safe and legal abortion services.
For the third time in three years, the Commissioner addresses Slovak parliamentarians, reiterating her concern that attempts to restrict access to safe and legal abortion services would bring the Slovak Republic’s laws and practices into conflict with its international human rights obligations and run counter to the principle of non-retrogression in law.
The Commissioner stresses that the proposal to extend the current mandatory waiting period of 48 hours to 96 hours, covering any abortion except when a woman’s health or life is at immediate risk, would exacerbate the already problematic situation. She also notes that a proposed ban on ‘advertising’ of abortion could prevent health care professionals from publicly providing information on safe abortion services. In relation to a proposal that would aim to eliminate the current requirement that doctors provide information on contraceptive methods and their use, the Commissioner recalls that ensuring the affordability, availability and accessibility of modern contraception should be part of a human rights-based approach to sexual and reproductive health.
Finally, the Commissioner expresses concern that repeated attempts to introduce restrictions on access to safe and legal abortion are indicative of an alarming trend towards the undermining of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in the country and deplores that this created a hostile environment for human rights defenders working in this area.