Abortion Law and Policy Reform:
Poland, Venezuela, Philippines, Belgium, Dominican Republic, Croatia, Mexico

8 August 2016

"Save the Women" legal initiative tabled in Parliament

The "Save the Women" Civic Committee has tabled a draft law in the Sejm, lower house of the Polish parliament, liberalizing the anti-abortion legislation in force in Poland since 1993. The draft law allows abortion on request until the 12th week of pregnancy, and improves access to contraception and sexuality education. After that abortion would be permissible along the same rules as those in effect today. Additionally, in cases of severe and irreversible impairment of the foetus or an incurable disease, abortion would be permitted up to the 24th week. Abortion would be permissible up to the 18th week if the pregnancy were the result of rape or sexual abuse. 

The Committee succeeded in collecting about 215,000 signatures endorsing the draft law from across Poland in three months. "Save the Women" is a response to the extremely repressive anti-abortion bill aimed at banning abortion in Poland even if it is necessary to save the life of a woman, which was tabled in parliament by fundamentalist groups in July. Now, the Parliament will have to consider both bills in the autumn...

Abortion and economic war: revolution, reproductive rights, and Venezuela’s crisis
(Entrevista / Aborto y....¿Guerra económica?)

by Red de Información por el Aborto Seguro (Safe Abortion Information Network) & 15 y Ultimo

For the past five years, we women who form part of the Safe Abortion Information Network offer a free telephone line for women who wish to end their pregnancies and need information about the safest way to do so without medical attention and with a low percentage of risk... We are helping on average of 315 women daily. Before 2014, access to misoprostol was already pretty limited, but now it’s not available in any pharmacies, because the pharmaceutical mafias and the bachaqueros make more money selling it on the black market at 50 times the price. A woman who decides to have a first trimester abortion using pills needs 12 pills on the black market that can cost between 4 and 10 thousand bolívares each. One could say in sum that the economic war  in Venezuela has dramatically affected the right to decide about our bodies and our lives...

Advocates of the Reproductive Health Bill stage a “die-in” during a protest
outside the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines building in Manila,
27 February 2011. REUTERS/ Cheryl Ravelo

CEDAW calls on Philippines to provide contraception and allow safe abortion in some circumstances, then President Duterte announces full implementation of 2012 RH Law  

Philippines President Duterte has announced the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (RH Law) so that couples, especially the poor, will have freedom of informed choice on the number and spacing of children. The RH Law guarantees universal access to methods of contraception, fertility control, sexual education and maternal care. In the Philippines, one out of every 10 adolescent women aged 15-19 is already a mother and there are 25 new HIV cases a day while the unintended pregnancy is high with three in ten births unwanted or mistimed, and only 38 percent of adolescent women aged 15-49 use modern contraceptives.

In CEDAW's recommendations, they expressed concern about the inconsistent implementation of  the RH Law and further expressed concern about the absence of an effective mechanism to monitor its implementation, as well as the increasing number of unsafe abortions among adolescent girls in the Philippines. Under the RH Law, abortion remains illegal and punishable as a crime and proposed amendments to the current penal code aim to increase the penalties for abortion...

Le SP.A veut rendre l'avortement possible jusqu'à 20 semaines
(The SP.A, a Flemish socialist party, wants to make abortion possible up to 20 weeks)

Deux députés sp.a souhaitent porter la limite de l'avortement de douze à vingt semaines, comme c'est le cas aux Pays-Bas, rapportent mardi De Standaard et Het Nieuwsblad. Chaque année, entre 500 et 600 femmes traversent la frontière néerlandaise pour aller se faire avorter. Il s'agit de femmes enceintes de plus de douze semaines, qui n'ont donc plus droit à l'avortement en Belgique. Elles peuvent toutefois interrompre leur grossesse dans le cas où cette dernière présente de graves risques pour la santé.
(Two members of the SP.A wish to bring the upper time limit for abortions from 12 to 20 weeks in Belgium, as is already the case in the Netherlands, which was reported recently in De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad. Each year, 500–600 women seeking abortions after 12 weeks cross the Dutch border for an abortion, as they no longer have the right to abortion in Belgium, except when the pregnancy presents a serious risk to their health.

La proposition est soutenue par les centres pratiquant l'avortement, selon les quotidiens.
(The resolution is supported by the Belgian abortion centres.)...

No more words! Act now! To oblige a woman to continue a pregnancy when it puts her life at risk is
cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Demonstration for the International Day for the Elimination
of Violence Against Women, 2014. Photo: Erika Santelices/AFP/Getty Images

UN experts call for new Criminal Code reform to be widened on abortion

On 27 July 2016, four United Nations human rights experts urged the President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, and legislators to protect women's and girls’ rights to sexual and reproductive health in the country. “We urge Dominican authorities to repeal all restrictive legal provisions regarding abortion, especially in cases of risk to the health, including mental health, of the woman or girl, of rape and incest and of fatal impairment of the fetus,” they said.

This call comes at a time when the Dominican Senate will debate reform of the Penal Code, which was adopted by the Chamber of Deputies and promulgated by the President in 2014. Under a new proposed amendment, terminating a pregnancy is only available in one case: when there is a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or girl. The proposed new text of the Criminal Code also establishes that women who induce the termination of their pregnancy will be liable to 2–3 year imprisonment sentences. Health professionals who perform abortions under any circumstances other than risk to the pregnant woman's or girl’s life will be liable to 4–10 years in jail.

“The Dominican Republic did not seize this key moment of legislative amendment to reaffirm its commitment towards the elimination of gender discrimination in its legislation and to advance women’s and adolescents’ sexual and reproductive rights but, rather, is attempting to remove crucial rights to reproductive health,” deeply regretted the experts...

March to protest government interference in educational reform, including sexual
education, 1 June 2016, Photo by Karlo Mijić

Abortion rights and other rights under threat in Croatia

A new government came into power at the end of January 2016. Since then, Croatia has turned towards the far right with a noticeable rise in nationalism, ethnic intolerance towards the Serbian minority, and conservativism, with one of the main objectives being a ban on abortion. The new government also tried to stop a planned educational reform by introducing more conservative members into the expert group. Their vision for education consists of patriotic history, literature conveying traditional and Christian virtues, and conservative sexual education. However, the coalition between the two largest parties broken down several months ago, and new elections are expected later in the year.

In an investigation into access to abortion in hospitals in Croatia for the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, Masenjka Bacic reports the following findings:
"Abortion is legal in Croatia, but increasingly feels forbidden. In 1990, on the eve of its independence, 46,679 legal abortions were carried out. Last year, according to official figures, there were 8,181, one of the lowest rates in Europe. In 2014, of 375 gynaecologists employed in Croatian hospitals where abortions can be carried out, 166 do so. Others refuse on religious grounds." She goes on to report the responses she got from hospitals when asking for an abortion...

Initiative for "protection" of life? The governor of Veracruz cares more about life in gestation 
than the hundreds of disappeared persons in his state. @GIRE_mx

Abortion banned by governor of Mexican state Veracruz
The Veracruz state governor has pushed through a draconian anti-abortion bill as his six-year term comes to a close. State lawmakers approved a constitutional amendment on Thursday to “protect life from conception” – thus outlawing all abortions. The ban will become effective after a majority of the state municipalities approve the measure – likely to be a formality as most are controlled by Duarte’s party, the PRI.
Protection of life? The governor cares more about life in gestation than the hundreds of disappeared persons in his state, GIRE (Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida – Group for Information on Reproductive Choice)
said via Twitter... FULL STORY
Editor: Marge Berer

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