ASTRA Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health

Jun 06 2018

New factsheet by Center for Reproductive Rights

In many European countries where abortion is legal, domestic laws and regulations allow medical professionals to refuse to provide abortion care or other forms of reproductive health care on grounds of conscience or religion. However, evidence indicates that in some of these countries the failure of state authorities to effectively and proactively regulate and monitor such refusals and enforce safeguards undermines women’s ability to obtain timely, safe, and legal abortion care.

International human rights law and standards require states to ensure that medical professionals’ refusals of care do not jeopardize women’s access to legal reproductive health care. As a result, where European governments fail to ensure that medical professionals’ refusals of care do not impede women’s access to legal reproductive health care, they contravene international human rights law and standards.

This publication clarifies and summarizes these obligations and presents an overview of European human rights jurisprudence related to medical professionals’ refusals to provide abortion care and other forms of reproductive health care on grounds of conscience or religion. 

Access the factsheet here

Jun 04 2018

Ireland voted decisively to repeal one of the world’s more restrictive abortion bans, sweeping aside generations of conservative patriarchy and the vast influence of the Roman Catholic Church.

The long awaited results, reflected in the numbers announced on Saturday, May 26th, cemented the nation’s liberal shift at a time when right-wing populism is on the rise in Europe and the Trump administration is imposing curbs on abortion rights in the United States. In the past three years alone, Ireland has installed a gay man as prime minister and has voted in another referendum to allow same-sex marriage.

The “yes” camp of the #Repealthe8th referendum took more than 66 percent of the vote, according to the official tally, and turnout was about 64 percent. This was preceded by years of advocacy on national, regional and international level by Irish women’s groups, human rights activists and international organisations.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said that he would introduce legislation allowing for abortion on request up to the 12th week of pregnancy, and thereafter in specific circumstances and seek to have it passed by the end of the year.

The positive result of the referendum and repealing of the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution will have vast consequences for the entire Europe and women across the globe.

Additional read

Exit polls point to landslide vote to relax Irish abortion laws

Ireland’s Yes vote ushers in a new era for women’s rights in Europe

After Ireland’s abortion vote, where does the Catholic church go now?

How Savita Halappanavar’s Death Spurred Ireland’s Abortion Rights Campaign

May 29 2018

Group of feminists and pro-choice activists, the Platform for Reproductive Rights, on the eve of the so-called March for Life held on Saturday, May 20th which year after year further silences women’s voices staged a night-time street action which inscribed women’s experiences into the city of Zagreb (housing blocks, churches and hospitals) with the aim of speaking out about issues faced by women who seek abortion.

In a symbolic night-time action women’s stories and experiences became an extension of all the silenced voices of anonymous women. Invisible experiences are written on the body of the city – we live among you, and so do our experiences. Projected into the public space of the city, these experiences became the voice of the people and women's stories became – both our stories and your stories.

See photos from the action on Facebook

May 16 2018

Armenia, a small landlocked post-soviet country was on international news headlines recently and the reason, luckily, was not a natural disaster, mass killings or a terrorist attack that usually attracts global media attention in less developed world but the phenomenon of exceptional character of civil disobedience acts bringing to the unprecedented non-violent bottom-up revolution in the post-Soviet territory. Protests and marches took place initially in response to Serzh Sargsyan's third consecutive term as the most powerful figure in the government of the Armenia and later against the Republican Party-controlled government in general. Pashinyan declared it a Velvet Revolution. Read the article by ASTRA’a representative, Anna Arusthyan from Society Without Violence about what really happened in Armenia this year:

The winning recipe of Revolution ‘Love and Solidarity’: Armenian style

May 16 2018

In April and May pro-choice billboards with the slogan “Women in Poland demand legal abortion” have appeared in different cities and towns across Poland. This campaign was organised by an informal women’s group, which managed to gather financial means in a crowdfunding campaign. The organizers and supporters wished to protest with these billboards against manipulative messages of the anti-abortion fundamentalists and to make their voice in the public sphere more distinctive. The billboards were meant to support pro-choice people in smaller, conservative towns and to empower them to show that they possess agency and can change the reality. Their action reflects a solid and growing support for the liberalization of the anti-abortion law.

The latest opinion poll conducted by IPSOS in cooperation with, the online portal run by investigative journalists, reaffirms some continued trends, but it also surprises with new observations. The most crucial conclusions:

  • 37% of Poles are for liberalization, 44% for the status quo and 11% for a stricter law. Since January the percentage of anti-abortion radicals has dropped by 4%.
  • the poll exposes the dual-thinking of Poles. Opinion about the right to abortion is more liberal – among 20% of respondents – when people are faced not with the abstract law, but with a specific situation of a women in an unwanted pregnancy. 55% of interviewees claim that the law should not ban abortion in case of an acquainted in a difficult situation
  • among voters of the Law and Justice Party there are more supporters of liberalization than opponents
  • number of people appealing for a more restrictive law has fallen since January in almost all electorates
  • youth has become one of the most liberal groups regarding their stance on abortion, for a long time they were one of the most conservative groups.
  • acceptance of abortion is lower among people with higher income and with a higher level of formal education, which is not surprising in the light of the fact that they have resources in terms of money, information and contacts to arrange pregnancy termination beside the official system
  • Men are much more conservative than women

Source: Federation for Women and Family Planning

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