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

Jun 01 2017

CESI and Initiative of pro-choice doctors organized a public debate on 9th of May: “The abortion law for the 21st century” in order to emphasize that abortion should be legal, safe and accessible to all women. The Croatian Constitutional Court reaffirmed in March this year the constitutionality of access to abortion and ruled that by allowing women’s access to abortion on request within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, the law gives effect to women’s constitutional rights to privacy, liberty, and personality and complied with international human rights law and comparative European law. As the 1978 law predated the current Croatian Constitution, the Court requested that the Croatian Parliament adopts new legislation within two years. It is expected that the current Croatian Government, under the pressure of ultraconservative forces, will attempt to severely limit access to safe abortion through mandatory counseling and waiting periods and promotion of conscientious objection. The conclusions which emphasise that the Croatian authorities must not deviate from universal and regional human rights principles and standards that protect the sexual and reproductive rights of women were sent to decision makers with request to include the civil society and women’s groups recommendation into the new abortion law.

Source: CESI

May 30 2017

On the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, #28May, Daniela Draghici, a member of the Society for Feminist Analyses AnA, #Romania, organized a “Yard Sale for Choice” in partnership with the Youth for Youth Foundation, Society for Education in Contraception and Sexuality - SECS, an Astra Youth member, Romanian Anti-AIDS Association – ARAS, Marie Stopes International Romania Foundation and the National Public Health Institute.

May 26 2017

On May 25th the Polish Government voted in favour of limiting access to emergency contraception violating women’s reproductive rights few months after the “Black Protest”.

The draft proposal was put forward by the ruling Law and Justice party and accepted for further works in February this year. Besides issues focusing on patient’s access to medicines it also aimed to make all contraception, including emergency contraception, available only on prescription from doctor.

242 Members of Parliament voted in favour of this ruling, including all representatives from the Law and Justice party who have a majority in the Parliament, 188 against and 9 abstained from voting. 21 did not attend the session.

As result of the C(2015)51 ruling from the European Commission, and upon recommendation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), in January 2015 emergency contraceptive with ulipristal acetate, registered in Poland under the brand name ellaOne, received the authorization to be sold without prescription across the European Union (EU). The ulipristal acetate emergency contraceptive pill (UPA ECP) – ellaOne - became available in Polish pharmacies without prescription from April 2015 contributing to rising the standard of reproductive health services and supplies for Polish women and girls, and expanding the postcoital contraceptive choices of women.

Mr. Konstanty Radziwił, the Polish Minister of Health announced that he, as a doctor, would never prescrive emergency contacetion to a raped woman. One of the arguments for reinstating the provision of a mandatory doctor’s prescription for emergency contraceptives is the apparent (yet not proven) ‘misuse of the pill’ by teenage girls in Poland and its detrimental effects on women’s health.

The planned restrictions will greatly impede the lives of women and girls and contribute to the sales of this product from unsafe sources. The economical aspect of this decision is crucial to note as only women who can afford to visit a doctor at a private facility (gynecologists at public facilities have an average waiting time adding up to app. 18 days) will be able to do so. This ruling, besides weakening women’s reproductive health and rights, will contribute to a rise in the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions in a country where access to a safe and legal abortion is already incredibly difficult.

Poland becomes one of the very few European countries where such an obstacle in accesing emergency contraception will excist. Such a requirement is also present in Hungary, Albania and Russian Federation.

May 24 2017

MEPs of the EP Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality visited Poland from 22 - 24 May.

MEPs observed the situation of women’s rights in the country with a special focus on the implementation of the Istanbul convention and victims of violence, sexual and reproductive rights and women’s economic empowerment.

The delegation composed of Maria ARENA (S&D, Belgium), Malin BJÖRK (GUE/NGL, Sweden), Terry REINTKE (Greens, Germany) and Daniela AIUTO (EFDD, Italy) met with representatives of the civil socjety, among these was ASTRA Network and the Federation for Women and Family Planning, Polish authorities, Deputies and Senators, academics, human rights professionals and service providers in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the situation on women's rights in Poland.

May 22 2017

The mission of the EU Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality will visit Warsaw in order to observe the situation of women’s rights in Poland. It will focus on the application of the Istanbul convention, the state of victims of violence, sexual and reproductive rights and women’s economic empowerment in Poland. Composed by Ms Maria Arena (S&D, Belgium) (Head of Mission), Ms Malin Björk (GUE/NGL, Sweden), Ms Terry Reintke (Greens/EFA, Germany), Ms Daniela Aiuto (EFDD, Italy) and Ms Jadwiga Wiśniewska (ECR, Poland), the delegation is planning to meet government representatives, civil society, among them ASTRA Network Coordinator and Federation for Women and Family Planning Excecutive Director and other independent equality experts.

The mission will visit Poland from May 22nd to 24th.

Source: FEMM Nesletter

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