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

Apr 20 2018
  • Comprehensive strategy document uncovered, plus information on clandestine meetings
  • Links to anti-abortion initiatives in Poland, Spain and at EU level; as well as anti-gay marriage movements in Croatia, Romania and Slovenia
  • Secret strategy also targets contraception, divorce and IVF

Book researched and written by the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF)

A book released today in Stockholm reveals that campaigners from the US and Europe have been strategizing ‘achievable goals’ to roll back human rights in Europe since 2013. Documents have recently emerged showing a detailed, extremist strategy called Restoring the Natural Order: an Agenda for Europe, which seeks to overturn existing laws on basic human rights related to sexuality and reproduction.

The book examines that strategy document and the workings of the Vatican-inspired professional advocacy network, going by the name Agenda Europe, aiming for its implementation.

Agenda Europe is producing concrete results, such as the 2016 Polish bill to ban abortion, bans on equal marriage in several Central European countries and over a dozen comparable acts at national level and in European institutions aiming to limit women’s and LGBTI rights.

While the rise of ultra-conservatism in Europe has been apparent for several years, precisely how these actors are organising, fundraising and attempting to exert influence has not been clear. In shedding light on several of these questions, the book provides a fascinating insight into the clandestine workings and deliberate strategy of Europe’s anti-choice movement.

Commenting on the book, EPF President and Swedish MP Ulrika Karlsson said: “While compassion is a professed cornerstone of Christianity, it is entirely absent in the outlook of Europe’s anti-choice. This movement would force women to carry unwanted pregnancies, restrict access to contraception, decide who can marry and decide who can call themselves a family. Many will be surprised that they also target divorce and access to IVF treatment. In doing so, they are attempting to foist their personal religious beliefs on others via public policy and law.”

Being aware and understanding this ultra-conservative movement is essential for those who want to safeguard a modern, inclusive and tolerant Europe. Intended as a resource for politicians, political parties, civil society and journalists, this book aims to aid that understanding.

Access the book here.

Source: EPF

Apr 11 2018
  • All 46 countries researched must do more in providing comprehensive information and reimbursement for contraception
  • Schemes offering reimbursement for long acting and reversible contraception are powerful in increasing access to contraception
  • Unintended pregnancy is an avoidable burden for European States

BRUSSELS, 11 April 2017 Access to contraception should be a key concern of governments in empowering citizens to plan their families and lives. Yet every country analysed by the 2018 Contraception Atlas needs to do more to improve access. The findings show that for many European countries, ensuring that people have choice over their reproductive lives is not a priority. Now in its second edition, the Atlas tracks government policies on access to contraceptive methods, family planning counseling and the provision of online information on contraception in 46 European states.

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Apr 03 2018

Dunja Mijatović, national of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is the new Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. She has been elected last January by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. She is the first woman to hold this post, succeeding Nils Muižnieks (2012-2018), Thomas Hammarberg (2006-2012) and Alvaro Gil-Robles (1999-2006).

"I intend to keep the legacy of the previous Commissioners’ work and maintain the ability of this institution to react rapidly and effectively to protect people’s human rights. My view is that human rights are indeed universal and that no country is beyond scrutiny. In terms of priorities, my vision is simple. In a word, it is: implementation. Norms, resolutions, treaties are there to guide us. Yes, we do need political will to make sure they are realised. But this is not a matter only for governments. We must engage our societies at large in their implementation and involve everyone in a dialogue on human rights. It is paramount that we achieve a recommitment to and a reaffirmation of human rights for all, and bring back trust in their importance for the well-being of each and every person. I look forward to cooperating with governments, national authorities, international organisations, human rights defenders, journalists, NGOs, and human rights structures.”

Source: CoE

Mar 22 2018

Poland’s Parliament should listen to the voices of women across Poland and reject a regressive legislative proposal that would erode reproductive rights, over 200 human and women’s rights groups from across the globe said in a statement today.

The Parliament is debating a draft bill entitled “Stop Abortion.” If adopted, this legislation will severely limit the already restricted grounds on which women can lawfully access abortion in Poland. It will place women’s health and lives at risk and violate Poland’s international human rights obligations, the groups said.

The statement calls on Polish lawmakers to cease relentless attempts to roll back the reproductive rights of women in Poland and underlines the danger that will be posed to women and girls in Poland if the regressive law is adopted.

The text of the statement is as follows:

"We are deeply concerned by relentless attempts to roll back the reproductive rights of women in Poland.

This week Poland’s parliament is debating a new draft bill entitled “Stop Abortion.” If adopted, this legislation will further limit the already restricted grounds on which women can lawfully access abortion in Poland. It will place women’s health and lives at risk and violate Poland’s international human rights obligations. 

We call on Members of Poland’s Parliament to listen to the voices of women across Poland and to reject this regressive legislative proposal and protect women’s health and human rights.

Poland already has one of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws. Abortion is only lawful to safeguard the life or health of women, in situations of severe fetal anomaly or where the pregnancy results from rape or another criminal act such as incest. Even in those situations in which abortion is legal, multiple barriers combine to limit women’s access in practice. The latest “Stop Abortion” proposal seeks to ban abortion in situations where there is a severe fetal anomaly.

If the “Stop Abortion” bill is passed it will mean that abortion care will no longer be available to women in Poland when they receive a diagnosis of a severe or fatal fetal anomaly. Official statistics from 2016 show that in practice 96% of legal abortions in Poland are performed on these grounds. Most women in Poland who decide to end a pregnancy resulting from rape or because their health is at risk are unable to access legal abortion care in Poland and must travel outside the country to do so. This bill would further hinder women, particularly those from low-income and rural communities, from accessing safe abortion care.

Since 2011, Poland’s government has launched repeated attacks on women’s reproductive rights. In 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016 draft legislative proposals were introduced that contained total or near total bans on abortion. Following massive public protests, such as the Black Protests in 2016, these draft bills were defeated.

Prohibiting women from accessing safe, legal abortion violates a number of human rights enshrined in international law, including the rights to life, health and health care, nondiscrimination and equality, privacy, and freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The European Court of Human Rights has previously ruled that the Polish government, in hindering timely access to abortion, has violated women’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. Numerous international human rights bodies, including the UN Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Committee Against Torture, have called on governments to remove barriers to abortion services and ensure access to safe and legal abortion."

 The full statement and list of signatories.

Mar 21 2018

Members of the ASTRA Network Advisory Board, Daniela Draghici, Romania and Medea Khmelidze, Georgia, participated in the 2nd inroads Global Member Gathering in Zagreb, Croatia on March 12-16 that brought together more than 100 activists from around the world.

Inroads, the International Network for the Reduction of Abortion Discrimination and Stigma, is a global network of advocates, scholars, health providers, and donors from around the world, hosted the Inroads Global gathering that created a platform where participants could connect with new and familiar colleagues and be actively involved in many varied and highly interactive activities, providing valuable spaces to learn more about fellow network members.

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