Mijatovic Concerned at Slovak Bill Aiming to Make Abortions Less Accessible

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(stock photo by TASR)

Strasbourg, October 19 (TASR) – Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic has voiced her concerns regarding a Slovak bill currently at its second reading in Parliament that aims to make abortions less accessible.

In an open letter sent to Parliamentary Chair Boris Kollar and the heads of five parliamentary committees, Mijatovic stated that she considers the protection of women’s rights, including their sexual and reproductive health, a priority.

“I am writing to you to express my concerns about the bill of August 31, which will soon be debated in Parliament. Several provisions of this bill would introduce restrictions on women’s access to safe and legal abortions, which would bring Slovakia into conflict with its international human rights obligations and put women’s health and reproductive rights at risk,” reads the letter.

Mijatovic noted in this vein that this is the third time in three years that she’s been compelled to express serious concerns about proposals of this kind in Slovakia, as she sent two similar letters to the country in November 2019 and September 2020.

She welcomed the fact that the Slovak Parliament has previously rejected what she saw as problematic amendments, and she asked MPs to ensure once again that no legislation that would contravene European and international human rights and health standards is adopted even at present.

The commissioner explained that she’s deeply concerned with the proposal to extend the mandatory period of reflection from the current 48 to 96 hours, which would apply to all abortions except cases in which a woman’s health or life were in imminent danger due to her pregnancy.

She also stressed that a proposed ban on abortion advertising would prevent health-care professionals from publicly providing information about safe abortion services and their availability, which is key to ensuring that women have access to such services and enjoy fully their right to sexual and reproductive health.

Mijatovic went on to express concern about planned changes that would remove the obligation for doctors to provide information on contraceptive methods and their use. In her view, the protection of this right includes not only guaranteed access to safe and legal abortions, but also to the use of age-appropriate, evidence-based and scientifically accurate sex-education curricula, as well as ensuring that modern contraceptive methods are available.