Editor’s note. The following comes from our friends at the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues.
The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) in a new fact sheet– Mandatory Waiting Periods and Biased Counseling Requirements in Central and Eastern Europe; Restricting access to abortion, undermining human rights, and reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes– declares that recently enacted laws on abortion in central and eastern Europe are harmful to women’s health and well-being. New requirements in Russia, Macedonia, and Slovakia for waiting periods, mandatory counseling, and informed consent are labeled “retrogressive measures” which the CRR denounces.
The CRR acknowledges that countries seeking to restrict abortion have had a very long history of unlimited abortion on demand but fails to question why governments are now issuing new requirements on abortion. It declares, “Many Central and Eastern European countries were among the first jurisdictions in the world to legalize abortion. Indeed laws and policies in most Central and Eastern European countries have long provided that women may access abortion services in a wide range of circumstances… However, in recent years, a wave of restrictive legislative initiatives has spread across Central and Eastern European jurisdictions, with lawmakers and government authorities seeking to impose a series of new preconditions that women must fulfill before they can obtain legal abortion services.”
The new laws are called “barriers in access to legal abortion services” that “undermine respect for women’s human rights, and promote harmful gender stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes.”
Opposition to abortion regulations is couched in human rights language with references to UN treaty monitoring body recommendations that also distort internationally recognized human rights law to advance access to abortion. The CRR charges that “the retrogressive introduction of these laws and policies undermines compliance with international human rights law and standards” but there is no international treaty enacted at the United Nations that includes a right to abortion.