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

Sep 22 2016

The Polish Parliament will today debate two bills concerning access to legal and safe abortion one aiming to implement a total ban on abortion and the other one introducing a liberalization of the current law. ASTRA, ASTRA Youth and CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality have prepared this statement to draw attention on the stand of Polish government complying with its human rights obligations towards the women of Poland.

This statement was presented to Members of the Polish Parliament on September 22nd 2016.

This Joint Statement and Call for Action for the Polish Parliament to Examine the Right to Access to Safe and Legal Abortion urges the government in Poland to dismiss the “Stop Abortion” draft bill and to takes immediate steps towards the realization of:

1.       Women’s reproductive rights by ensuring the fulfillment of access to safe and legal abortion services nation-wide for all women in Poland without stigmatization, discrimination, intimidation or victimization of women requiring these services;

2.       Relevant monitoring of number and conditions of illegal abortions;

3.       Ensuring access to sexuality education and broad access to modern contraception in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Access the statement HERE.

Sep 21 2016

Recent developments in Europe, in particular in Poland, have put the reproductive rights of women and girls under severe pressure. Together with partners - ASTRA Youth, You Act and CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, we have developed this factsheet that aims to raise awareness about women’s and girl’s rights to safe and legal abortion and to encourage the reader to engage in ongoing discussions about reproductive rights.

Click here to access the factsheet

Sep 20 2016

On September 22nd the Polish Parliament will vote on 2 draft bills regarding abortion.

The “Stop Abortion” bill proposes to ban abortion in all cases, aiming to punish women and medical personnel for illegal procedures. Prepared by groups which deny women their basic right to health and wellbeing, this bill will have severe consequences, if put into force.

The „Save the Women” initiative proposes to change the law on abortion in Poland, which is one of the most restrictive in Europe for the past 25 years, by introducing not only access to safe and legal abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy but also a complete package of sexual and reproductive health services, such as comprehensive sexuality education.

On Sunday, September 18th people gathered under the slogan “Save women, not a step further” in front of the Polish Sejm in Warsaw. Smaller protests in other cities in Poland. The changes proposed by anti-choice groups would risk the lives of women and force girls as young as 11 who had been raped or subjected to incest either to give birth or face going to jail.

Krystyna Kacpura, director of the Federation of Women and Family Planning, said many Polish women were already in effect denied access to legal abortions despite a 1993 law that was supposed to allow terminations in cases of rape or incest, where the foetus is severely damaged or ill, or where the mother’s life is at risk.

See the media releases in English here:

Amnesty International, The Guardian, article by ED of the Federation for Women and Family Planning, NewsDeeply

See photos from Warsaw protest here.

Sep 07 2016

13th AWID International Forum is taking place this week, from 8th to 11th September 2016 in Costa do Sauipe - Bahia, Brazil. The theme of the Forum is Feminist Futures: Building Collective Power for Rights and Justice.

The 13th AWID International Forum will bring together approximately 1700 activists, allies and movements from over 140 countries across all regions of the world. There will be over 200 speakers sharing the experiences, creative disruptions, and resistance of their movements in a variety of plenaries, cross-movement, umbrella and participant led sessions, and different arts and culture activities across the program.

ASTRA Youth representatives will attend the 13th AWID International Forum and provide their contributions at Young Feminist Activism Day.

ASTRA Youth will also hold the panel session Healthy signposts on bumpy roads to safe futures: youth SRHR realities in Central and Eastern Europe, organized in cooperation with Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, CESI (Center for education, counseling and research) Croatia, and Society Without Violence, Armenia.

Date & venue: September 9th, 16:30-18:00 at Gran Bahia 3.

The session will address current challenges faced by young people, when exercising their sexual and reproductive rights in Central and Eastern Europe. These realities will be discussed, while underscoring power of youth NGOs, which serve as healthy signposts, providing adolescents with comprehensive information on their health.

See more details on the panel HERE.

Aug 18 2016

UN agencies supporting women’s rights have been asked on August 17th  to send "a strong signal” to governments around the world by passing a resolution at this year's UN General Assembly in September to make International Safe Abortion Day an official UN day. An Open Letter was sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of UN Women, UN Development Programme, World Health Organization, UN Population Fund, UN Children’s Fund, UNAIDS, and UNESCO.
 
September 28 has been an international day of action in support of safe abortion since 1990, when the women’s health movement in Latin America first launched a campaign on that date. Today, abortion rights advocates in every region of the world organise activities each year. “The date was defined as a day of struggle for abortion rights in a region where some of the most draconian laws criminalizing abortion were and still are on the books,” said Sonia Corrêa, Co-Coordinator of the Sexuality and Policy Observatory, Sexuality Policy Watch, Brazil. "The choice of date was inspired by the abolition of slavery for children born to slave mothers in Brazil in 1871, when it was named the Day of the Free Womb."
 
The Open Letter was written by the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, a network of almost 1,800 groups and individuals from 115 countries. It was signed by 430 international, regional and national organizations, groups and individuals from 73 countries around the world, representing thousands of people.
 
The letter calls on the UN Secretary-General and UN agencies to acknowledge that making abortion safe is in line with a growing number of inter-governmental agreements, starting with the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action in 1994, the Beijing Women’s Conference Platform for Action in 1995, the Latin American Convención de Belém do Pará in 1996, the African Maputo Protocol of 2005, and most recently the call for the decriminalisation of abortion across Africa by the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR). These agreements and commitments all recognise that unsafe abortion is a serious public health problem and a violation of women’s human rights that needs to be alleviated.
  
The Open Letter points out that women are still suffering and dying from complications of unsafe abortion in many global South countries. Deaths from unsafe abortion worldwide were estimated at 43,684 in 2013, accounting for 14.9% of all maternal deaths. Since the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, in fact, almost 1 million women have died from unsafe abortions, almost all of which were avoidable.
  
Marge Berer, who coordinated this initiative on behalf of the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, said: "Safe abortion is an essential health service for women. Would anyone today deliberately withhold effective HIV treatment or safe contraception from people who need them? Why, then, is it still acceptable that safe abortion is being withheld from so many women and girls with unwanted pregnancies?"
 
OPEN LETTER: Full text with signatories

Source: International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, PRESS RELEASE

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