Confronting the punitive treatment of women that underlies anti-abortion activity:
France, Croatia, Ireland, Poland, India, USA


9 December 2016


Bordeaux, 2010: My body is mine, abortion is a right, it's the law!

Government moves to ban misleading anti-abortion websites

The French National Assembly has passed a
law outlawing the promotion of false and misleading information about abortion on the internet, which will now go to the Senate. The text of the provision is one sentence:

"Lutte contre les pratiques de désinformation, notamment sur Internet, induisant intentionnellement en erreur ou exerçant une pression psychologique sur les femmes et leur entourage en matière d'IVG."
(Opposition to the practice of disinformation, in particular on the Internet, of intentionally promoting errors, or intentionally putting psychological pressure on women and those close to them in the matter of abortion.)

The law would punish offenders with up to two years in prison and a €30,000 fine.

Of course, the anti-abortion movement in France is upset about it and complaining about limiting their so-called freedom of speech. But what is unclear is why they feel a need to promote false and misleading information and intimidate women in the first place. It is actually possible to be anti-abortion without using false information in your messaging, let alone trying to tell women how to live their lives.

"Freedom of expression should not be confused with manipulating minds," Socialist Minister for Women's Rights Laurence Rossignol said, as the debate kicked off last week...



Croatia anti-abortion lobby not just peddling lies but playing with people's lives
If a woman searches the internet in Croatia for an abortion clinic the first clinic listed on Google appears to be offering information to women. But is actually part of a nationwide campaign aimed at discouraging women from terminating their pregnancies. The ills that the website claims await the woman who has an abortion are so dire that it's a miracle there are any healthy women left in Croatia, or the rest of the world for that matter, who haven't died from cancer or drug addiction or committed suicide. It isn't funny, it's actually quite vicious.

Today, according to a Guardian article, although abortions are allowed at public hospitals and one private clinic in Zagreb, of 375 doctors certified to manage abortions, just over half refuse on the basis of a 2003 law that introduced the right to conscientious objection, according to a 2014 report by the ombudsperson for gender equality.

Unlike in France, in response to a complaint about the website by the ombudsperson for gender equality, Višnja Ljubičić, the interior ministry said in early 2016 that it had found no criminal wrongdoing...



Ireland offers €30,000 to Amanda Mellet, who was forced to have an abortion in the UK

Amanda Mellet was forced to fly to England to terminate her pregnancy in 2011 after she was told at 21 weeks of pregnancy that the baby had a fatal fetal impairment and would not survive outside the womb. In 2013, she took her case to the UN Human Rights Committee.

In June 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee ruled that Ireland’s abortion laws had subjected Amanda Mellet to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and discrimination, in violation of Articles 7 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Amnesty International Ireland welcomed the decision. Executive Director Colm O’Gorman said: “We are heartened that the government has accepted the UN Committee’s findings, by offering compensation and counselling for the harm Ms Mellet suffered. This response acknowledges the harm caused to women by the current law. The government must now comply with the Committee’s ruling that Ireland reform its laws to ensure that no woman or girl will ever face similar human rights violations."

The Government also said it could not make a commitment to alter the law because it would require a referendum. Instead, it had set up an Irish Citizen's Assembly to take evidence on the issue that is due to report by the end of 2017...




Statement on the planned restrictions on the availability of ulipristal acetate emergency contraception pills in Poland

ASTRA together with ASTRA Youth, as part of coalition of civil society organizations working on sexual and reproductive health and rights – You Act, CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, and the European Consortium for Emergency Contraception, sent a letter to the representatives of the European Commission, to voice our concern on the current developments in Poland with regards to women and girls’ reproductive health and rights.

The Polish Minister of Health recently announced the plan to restrict access to emergency contraception which became freely available in pharmacies as a result of the C(2015)51 ruling from the European Commission last year. This step greatly contributed to the advancement of women’s and girls’ reproductive health and rights in Poland and across the European Union. The planned restrictions would greatly impede the lives of women and girls and contribute to the sales of this product from unsafe sources and also cause a rise in the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

ASTRA Network, ASTRA Youth, CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, European Consortium on Emergency Contraception and YouAct call on the European Commission to encourage the EU Member States to follow the recommendations of the European Medicines Agency in regards to emergency contraception in order to secure women's and girls’ reproductive rights and improve access to reproductive health services and supplies.

The full joint statement, dated 1 December 2016, is available HERE


Celebrating girls, at a Republic Day parade in India, January 2015
"The mother of all frauds": cheating pregnant women using ultrasound scans
Ingenuity, reports the Hindustan Times, is often the hallmark of cheats. In Rajasthan, unscrupulous medical practitioners, looking to make quick money, have been caught duping pregnant women to undergo abortions after telling them that they were carrying a girl child despite the fetus being male. This has been discovered in several cases through women posing as patients in decoy operations.
“It is perhaps the mother of all frauds,” said Naveen Jain, head of Rajasthan’s Pre-Conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques bureau of investigation, and mission director of National Health Mission. Sex determination using ultrasound is banned in India. Abortion is not but these are often confused.
Since 2009, the state of Rajasthan has carried out 39 decoy operations to catch those involved in sex determination and illegal abortions. Those involved in the illegal trade reportedly mostly use cheap Chinese-made portable ultrasound machines. Many of them are not trained doctors and cannot decipher the ultrasound. Social activist Rajan Choudhary, whose tip-offs have led to several decoy operations, says, “The doctors have a network of government and private nurses who terminate pregnancies at home. Doctors who conduct only the ultrasound refer women to them for abortion. The network works as middlemen for ultrasound clinics.”



Heartbeats trump women's legal right to abortion: the war on women hots up
In the state of Ohio, legislators passed a so-called “heartbeat bill” on 7 December 2016 that bans abortion with no exceptions after a fetal heartbeat can be heard – thought to be at around six weeks into a pregnancy.
The bill was tacked on at the last minute to another bill addressing child abuse. It was approved in the Republican-dominated state House and Senate, and will now be sent to the anti-abortion Republican Governor John Kasich’s desk. He has to sign or veto it within the next 10 days.
There is little or no doubt that the bill is unconstitutional. But it is only part of an unending stream of anti-abortion legislation that wastes legislative and court time and resources in the USA and ties the abortion rights movement up in knots in defensive action. Such "laws" are a marker of the deep, punitive hatred of women that has permeated the US Republican Party, like a disease, for many years now.
The American Civil Liberties Union Ohio have announced they will oppose the law if it is signed by the governor. And so it begins…


Stand up for someone's rights today!

We stand up for women's right to a safe abortion in humanitarian and crisis settings
We call on all United Nations agencies and all non-governmental aid agencies providing health care services in humanitarian settings to follow the lead of Médecins sans Frontières by providing comprehensive reproductive health services, including safe abortions, to girls and women who need them.

SOURCE + PHOTO by Eskinder Debebe

Editor: Marge Berer

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