CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights 

No 5 (27) 2005


table of contents:


BURNING ISSUE - Human Rights Commission


The 61st Session of the Commission on Human Rights, took place in Geneva, between March 16 and 22 of April 2005. The meeting was very important as far as sexual and reproductive rights, including HIV are concerned. A number of resolutions which made specific reference to RSHR were adopted. They included: The elimination of violence against women; The right to health; Access to medications in the context of pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; HIV/AIDS; The right to education; Extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary executions.


The resolutions were not adopted without discussion and difficulties. As far as SRHR is concerned language used was usually disputed, and the final resolutions were an outcome of compromise.


For example in the resolution on HIV-AIDS sponsored by Poland, paragraph 5 proposed by Sweden: “Urges all States to integrate of their national strategies on HIV/AIDS interventions with sexual and reproductive health and the promotion of reproductive rights as well as the right to have control and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, free of coercion, discrimination and violence” was contested by Iran, Sudan, Pakistan, China, Egypt, USA, Vatican, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Ecuador. What is important that the same rhetoric of "no new rights" which was used at the Commission on the Status of Women in March was used by delegates to justify their state's conservative positions. The United States insisted on saying that people become infected with HIV/AIDS as a result of infidelity by their partners, so they are stressing the “faithfulness to one partner”.


In case of resolution on Violence against Women the same countries were opposing paragraph 10 (“…urges Governments, UN bodies, programmes and specialized agencies, and international and non-governmental organizations to effectively promote and protect women’s and girls’ human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, in the context of HIV/AIDS to lessen their vulnerability to HIV infection and to the impact of AIDS, as described or elaborated in the Guide lines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights."). At the time of tabling of the resolution 23 paragraphs were not agreed on.  This is unheard of at this stage of negotiations. It was adopted containing a new paragraph on violence related to dress codes. No one called a vote on the resolution as a whole so it was adopted by consensus. 


Other resolution of particular importance was on extra judicial, arbitrary and summary executions. This is the only CHR resolution that contains a specific reference to sexual orientation. Since above mentioned states did not want any reference to gender identity, there was a fight between deleting the whole list of grounds or keeping the list with or without references to gender identity.  


Human Rights and Sexual Orientation resolution was initiated by Brazil in 2003 was not on the agenda this year and it is unclear even if there will be any effort to keep this on the agenda for next year.

For the list of all resultutions and their full text go to: http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/chr/sessions/61/documents.htm

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Europe: Abortion. Abortion continues to cause more than a quarter of all maternal deaths in Central and Eastern Europe. Ipas and regional partners are committed to ensuring that every woman in the region has access to safe, woman-centered abortion and post-abortion care services. Among the factors causing the unnecessarily low quality of abortion care in the region are: shortages of equipment and medication, crowded facilities, poor hygienic conditions, lack of training, use of outdated technologies, inadequate standards and guidelines, a lack of contraceptive services and restrictive laws.  The article “Comprehensive Abortion Care in Central and Eastern Europe,” recently published in EntreNous, the European Magazine for Sexual and Reproductive Health, summarizes the comprehensive approach that Ipas and regional partners are taking to address this multifaceted problem.

Source: Ipas


ASTRA launch in the European Parliament. On 26th April ASTRA has organized the launch of the new ASTRA publication “Closing the Gap on SRHR in the Enlarged EU. The event in the EP has been hosted by the EPWG - European Parliament Working  Group on Reproductive Health, Development and HIV/AIDS chaired by Anne Van Lancker. Among others the meeting was attended by MEPs, European Commission officials (Development DG), missions' representatives, UNFPA, OSI, and NGOs.


Kazakhstan: Illegal Abortion Concerns Mount. Scared of shaming their families, pregnant Muslim women and girls undergo potentially fatal illegal abortions. For Muslim girls living in the south of Kazakhstan, sex before marriage is strictly forbidden. In rural villages where some families still observe the tradition of examining the sheets after the wedding night, the pregnancy out of the wedlock is considered a disgrace for a woman and her family. When the rural girls move to the cities, the environment is more permissive, but still the women and girls are too embarrassed to find out about contraception. As a consequence many young women end up pregnant, and try to hide it from their families. Despite that abortion has always been legal in Kazakstan, they choose to have illegal abortions because they want to remain anonymous. The United Nations Population Fund has implemented a comprehensive reproductive health strategy throughout Kazakstan. It includes a clinic in Shymkent and any woman is eligible for a free advice and contraception. However, specialists there say that the facility is hardly used, particularly by the girls who most need advice. Full text: http://www.turkishweekly.net/printerfriendly/printerfriendly.php?type=news&id=7754

Source: Turkish Weekly


Lithuania: reproductive rights attacked. Lithuanian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association has been attacked by opposition in the 12th of April newspaper. A one page article claimed that Open Society Fund - Lithuania is main actor responsible for introduction of medical abortion in Lithuania as it finances the Association. It was mentioned, that OSF – Lithuania introduces so called “death pills” in Lithuania and alleged that the Association breaks Lithuanian laws spreading information about new method of pregnancy termination.

Source: Esmeralda Kuliesyte 



Lithuania: “No” to abortion. Additionally, in the middle of April parliamentarian, the leader of Polish election action in Lithuania V.Tomasevski registered the draft bill banning abortion in Lithuania. According to the bill abortion would be allowed only in the case of risk for woman’s health and fetuse’s life, and in case of pregnancy being a consequence of crime. It is proposed for a doctor providing illegal abortion to be punished by up to 2 years imprisonment.

Source: Rzeczpospolita Daily


Ukraine: HIV/AIDS. ICF "International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine" has produced a letter to new Ukrainian government addressed to Minister Polishchuk. The letter draws  attention to the problem of HIV/AIDS and drug use in Ukraine. It expressed a concern over the fact that a misbalance in access to treatment for active injecting drug users in Ukraine has occurred as a result of unavailability of substitution treatment for this category of patients. Further it urges the minister to act quickly to prevent further harm to Ukrainians who are dependent on opiates and to all Ukrainian society in gneral. The letter was signed by number of organizations including ASTRA.

Source: ICF "International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine"


Uzbekistan: Birth Control. It has been alleged that family planning campaign in Uzbekistan involves wide scale forced sterilization. Institute of War and Peace Reporting stated that the evidence is emerging that in order to ensure a smaller population Uzbekistani authorities are abusing women's rights by conducting hysterectomies and implanting contraceptive devices against their will. The authorities want women to give birth to fewer babies, less often. They argue that a reduced birth rate is for the good of the national economy as well as the welfare of mothers themselves. According to IWPR in Oltinkul district 16,000 young women were given IUDs last year, and another 10,000 have been ordered for 2005. Doctors in Uzbekistan have told IWPR of a health ministry decree which requires that all women of childbearing age be fitted with IUDs immediately after they given birth.

Source: IWPR ON-LINE: www.iwpr.net

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Pressure by US. The US government is trying to block the World Health Organisation from endorsing two medical abortion pills which could save the lives of some of the 68,000 women who die from unsafe practices in developing countries every year. The WHO wants to put the pills on its essential medicines list, which constitutes official advice to all governments on the basic drugs their doctors should have access to. The experts want the abortion pills to be listed in order to reduce the deaths and damage caused by unsafe abortions conducted in developing counties. Every year, 18.5 million of such abortions take place in developing countries. The risk of death from the procedure is 100 times higher there than in countries where mifepristone has been licensed.

Source: The Guardian


Letter to WHO. Ipas sent a letter to  WHO about inclusion of medical abortion pills on the WHO list of essential medicines. Persons who wrote and singed the letter wrote as physicians, public health experts, and individuals who have devoted their careers to women’s health, including reducing maternal deaths and injuries caused by unsafe abortion.

Source: Ipas


Netherlands: Illegal abortions abroad. The Dutch gynecologists association NVOG has admitted that Dutch women sometimes go abroad (Belgium or Great Britain) for an abortion after their 24th week of pregnancy. This procedure is illegal in the Netherlands. They to the above mentioned countries supposedly to get a second opinion. Full text; http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=19&story_id=18966&name=Dutch+women+op

Source: Expatica


UN: HIV/AIDS. On the 14 April 2005 UN adopted a resolutions concluding the 2005 session of the Commission on Population and Development. Two main resolutions covered population, HIV/AIDS and poverty, as well as the contribution of the Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) to the world's development goals, including those in the Millennium Declaration. United Nations have emphasized the need to integrate the goal of universal access to reproductive health by 2015 in strategies to attain the world's development goals. Such access should be part of efforts to eradicate poverty, improve maternal health, reduce infant and child deaths, promote gender equality and combat HIV/AIDS.
For more info visit
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2005/pop927.doc.htm, http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2005/pop920.doc.htm
Source: CHOICE, for youth and sexuality


Delay of Abortion Referendum. In the last issue of ASTRA Bulletin we have informed you about the referendum on abortion which was to be held in Portugal. Unfortunately since then Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio announced that he will delay until 2006 a national referendum on whether to decriminalize abortion during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Sampaio said that the referendum could not be held in 2005 because of constitutional restrictions about the timing of referendum votes and elections.

Source: AFP/Yahoo! News

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European Court of Human Rights. An abortion case is pending before the European Court of Human Rights against Ireland. It was brought by a woman that was pregnant with twins and one of them had a fatal fetal impairment. Since Ireland’s abortion law is very restrictive, only allowing abortion in cases where pregnancy threatens the health of the pregnant woman, she could not get an abortion in Irleland and was forced to travel to England. Now she is claiming that the Irish abortion law in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, particularly because it violates a woman’s right to privacy (Article 8) and that it amounts to inhumane and degrading treatment (article 3). She also made other arguments around some restrictions doctors face in helping patients seek abortions in the UK.

More information on: http://www.reproductiverights.org/pdf/crt_Ireland_amicus0405.pdf

Source: Christina Zampas


Colombia: challenge to abortion law. On Thursday, April 14th a complaint before the Constitutional Court was filed challenging Colombian Anti-abortion law, one of the world’s most restrictive laws. Colombian attorney Monica Roa of Women´s Link presented the complaint in her capacity as a Colombian citizen. The action seeks to legalize abortion in the most extreme cases: when the woman’s life or health is in danger, the pregnancy is a result of rape, and/or when the fetus has malformations incompatible with life outside of the womb. More info http://www.womenslinkworldwide.org

Source: Monika Roa

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Seminar. IPPF European Network will be hosting a seminar on Europe’s Global Leadership on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in Luxembourg on 17 June 2005. The aim of the one day event is to have an open discussion about the role of the European Union in promoting sexual and reproductive health rights in Europe and around the world. The seminar will explore the Netherlands and Luxembourg Presidencies Achievements in SRHR and Development; UK Presidency Priorities; the outcomes of Beijing +10; and strategies for Europe on SRHR. More info: http://www.ippfen.org

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Caucasus Bulletin. This year Gender Media Caucasus Journalists' Association has produced four issue of “CaucAsia International Bulletin”.  The bulletin covers variety of topics addressing women in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan. One of the focal points of the April edition is Beijing +10. For more information or to subscribe to it please write to galapet@ip.osgf.ge


Population Briefs. 2005 edition of Population Briefs features an article on studies showing that Plan B emergency contraceptive pills disrupt ovulation, preventing fertilization and not the implantation of a fertilized egg on the uterine wall. For more information visit: www.popcouncil.org/ecdisruptsovul. The entire May 2005 issue of Population Briefs is now available at http://www.popcouncil.org/pdfs/popbriefs/pbmay05.pdf


Reproductive Health Matters.In the latest issue of “Reproductive Health Matters” there is number of articles addressing CEE/CIS region. This includes: “National Laws and Unsafe Abortion: The Parameters of Change”. Full text: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=GatewayURL&_origin=CONTENTS&_method=citationSearch&_piikey=S0968808004240241&_version=1&md5=0dde5ba3714e3907de86146ae

“A Strategic Assessment of Abortion and Contraception in Romania”. Full text:


Website. The website of Countdown2015 http://www.countdown2015.org provides information on assessing the progress and mapping the future for the key goals of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994. You will also find related personal stories from all over the world on the site. Na początek