CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights 

No 6 (28) 2005


table of contents:




BURNING ISSUE - World Summit and Reproductive Rights 

The World Summit outcome document was adopted at 7:50 pm on Friday, September 16, with world leaders reaffirming their commitment to “achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015” and calling for the integration of reproductive health into strategies to achieve the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals). Women’s organizations, including those focusing on reproductive and health rights, put a lot of effort in preparing for the Summit. The general objective of these efforts was to ensure that the Summit contributes to the improvement of the situation of women around the world, including in the area of reproductive rights. Women’s rights advocates from around the world have achieved some gains on gender equality in the World Summit outcome document, despite the lack of meaningful action related to the implementation of the document, this includes the lack of political will on the part of governments to tackle poverty and ensure observance of human rights. The Millennium Development Goals on gender equality have been expanded from an original focus on primary education to include the following:

1. The end to impunity for violence against women

2. Universal access to reproductive health

3. The right to own and inherit property

4. Equal access to labor protection

5. Increased representation of women in government decision-making bodies

6. A decision to create a Human Rights Council


Further, world leaders agreed to repeal all laws that discriminate against women and promised to implement the landmark Security Council Resolution 1325, focusing on women’s increased participation in peace and security processes. Achievements specific to HIV/AIDS were also undertaken. This included commitment expressed in the outcome document to increase resources for, and commitment to combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic by increasing the capacities of adults and adolescents to protect themselves from HIV, among other means. 

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights were not only addressed by women’s groups but also by organizations focusing on youth, including Advocates for Youth and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS). They urged UN to refocus their efforts on ensuring that all young people have access to critical sexual health information and services to improve their lives and futures.  

The official outcome document is available online: http://www.un.org/summit2005/

Additional information also available at:












Wanda Nowicka and ASTRA awarded. On 15th September Wanda Nowicka received the award for ASTRA – CEE Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights – from the Sigrid Rausing Trust on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the foundation. To mark the anniversary the trustees decided to give ten awards of £100,000 each to those they feel have shown outstanding leadership in the Trust’s areas of interest.

The Trust is a charitable, philanthropic foundation, based in the UK, which gives grants for work in the fields of human rights, women’s rights, minority rights and social and environmental advocacy. Over the past ten years it has given away over £60million. This year it expects to award grants totalling around £12.5 million.

Sigrid Rausing trustees made the following statement :  “ASTRA was the best established network of any type in the region and that that was largely due to Wanda’s dedication and determination. She has shown great leadership and staying power, continuing to focus on reproductive rights at a time, and in an area, when they have increasingly come under attack. Wanda is able to bring together people from different backgrounds with different views and build support around common issues, She is recognised as a smart strategic operator and communicator in the region.”     

Other leaders who have won the awards are: Carolyn Hamilton of the Children’s Legal Centre, UK, Gareth Evans of Crisis Group, Belgium, Han Dongfang of China Labour Bulletin, Hong Kong, Bisi Adelye Fayemi of the African Women’s Development Fund, Ghana, Joanna Kerr of the Association of Women’s Rights in Development, Canada, Paula Ettelbrick of International Gay and Lesbian Commission, USA, Kerim Yildiz of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, UK, The Corner House group, UK, and Richard Fuller of the Blacksmith Institute, USA.     

The award will allow ASTRA to implement a project furthering its mission. It is most likely that the project will involve the production of a documentary depicting the situation of women in the region.


Hungary: Abortion Pill. Protesters including former Health Minister István Mikola, demonstrated in Budapest against the planned introduction of the abortion pill. In July the Ministry of Health accepted the recommendation of the Hungarian College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology's to license the RU-486 early-option pill, which can be used during the first seven weeks of pregnancy. The pill is not offered for sale yet, waiting for the National Pharmaceutical Institute to add it to its register. Since acceptance of the pill by the Ministry the treatment has been criticized by pro-life groups and individuals. It is also feared that it will lead to irresponsible sexual behavior. Abortion is legal in Hungary and until now its rate has been falling.  

The supporters of the pill argue that the number of abortions will not increase and that this will not lead to further shrinking of the already decreasing Hungarian population. It is argued that some women will use the pill rather then resort to surgical abortion, but it will not increase the number of the procedures performed.  

Anti-choice groups have also complained that the pill is dangerous to the health of women with some women dying after taking it. However, after clinical trials carried out in Hungary on over 1,500 women no health problems were reported.  

Full story: http://www.budapesttimes.hu/index.php?art=1077


Poland: parliamentary elections. On Sunday 25th of September parliamentary elections were held in Poland. The two parties which secured larges amount of votes were: Law and Justice (PiS) headed by twin brothers Lech and Jaros³aw Kaczynski (26, 99%) and Civil Platform (PO) which received 24,14%. Both of the parties are right wing, and while there was little hope that any party representing interests of women would win sufficient amount of seats, the outcomes were worse that it was expected. PO is promoting economic neoliberalism with no sensitivity to any social issues. The leader of victorious PiS became famous internationally for denying permission for Warsaw’s Gay Pride Parade in 2004 and 2005 and then allowing the homophobic so-called Parade of Normality organized by fundamentalist groups to walk through the streets of the city. PiS subscribes to traditional ‘pro-family’ values seeing family in its conservative context with women devoting their lives to childrearing and household duties. It also emphasizes its links to the values of the Polish Catholic church which, of course, implies strong opposition to sexual and reproductive rights including sexual education, contraception and abortion.  

Among 460 newly elected parliamentarians women constitute 20,4%, i.e  94 MPs. PiS has 29 women MPs, which constitutes 18,7% of total of 155; PO: 33 women (24,85%) and 100 men; Self-Defense: 15 women out of total of 56 MPs (26,7%); League of Polish Families - 5 women (14,7%); Polish Peasants Party – only one 1 woman (4%). The left wing party the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD):which until now formed the government lost power and has 55 MPs with 11 women (20%). The are 13 female senators in the new 100 members Senate (13%). 

In less then two weeks Poland will hold its Presidential elections. Only one of the candidates is a woman (Henryka Bochniarz). She is also one of the two candidates with clear commitment to reproductive rights of women including liberalizing Poland’s anti abortion law. Pro choice candidates do not have any chances for victory. According to opinion polls,  the new President will be either the leader of PO or PiS.


Russia: population and health care system. Russia is experiencing extreme population drop caused by an increasing death rate and plummeting birth rate. Russia's health care system is among the reasons blamed for this. Last year Russia had 1.6 million reported abortions, and just 1.5 million recorded births. At the same time, the life expectancy for men dropped to 58.8, which is much lower then in other developed countries. In 2004 Russia's population fell by almost half a million people. The high death rate has been attributed to a collapsing health system, high rates of alcoholism and violent crime.

Further due to the dilapidated health care system the country also experiences  the dramatic increase of HIV and AIDS infections. Some officials have warned that HIV/AIDS pandemic could bankrupt the health care system. In September Russia's lower house discussed changes to the country's health care system. Health Minister Mikhail Zurabov said that health care spending had increased from 2.34 billion Euro in 1998 to 13.6 billion Euro in 2004. Still this failed to make any difference. The introduction of mandatory medical insurance nationwide has also failed to resolve the problem. President Vladimir Putin called for increased salaries for doctors and nurses and more funding for the public health care sector.

Source: Push Journal 





Italy: abortion pill. The Italian government has suspended experiments on the abortion pill only one week after they were began. Health Ministry said that health inspectors had reported that one woman who had taken the experimental pill had begun hemorrhaging after she left the hospital. Abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978 but RU 486 (Mifegyne) is not yet used in the country. The 'morning-after' pill has been available on the Italian market since 2000.

More info: http://www.forbes.com/markets/feeds/afx/2005/09/21/afx2237000.html


Turkey: gay rights. Turkish authorities are trying to close down the country's first gay rights association KAOS which has been functioning as an informal group since 1994. This is very problematic in light of Turkey’s hopes for joining the EU. The Ankara governor's office has rejected an application by the KAOS Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association to be formally registered. Additionally, Ankara court had been asked to dissolve the association. The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) criticized the actions aimed at KAOS. Prejudice against homosexuals remains strong in Turkey, despite the fact that same-sex relationships have never been criminalized as in other Muslim countries and homosexuals are some of the country's top celebrities. Activist say that gays and lesbians risk their jobs if they disclose their sexual identity. Further, the Turkish army is the only force in NATO which considers homosexuality a psycho-social disorder; the police are notoriously aggressive towards transsexuals and transvestites.
More info:


US, and family planning for the poor. US administration recently withheld $34 million appropriated by Congress for the U.N. Population Fund. The Population Fund calculates that $34 million could prevent as many as 2 million unwanted pregnancies in poor nations and 4,700 maternal deaths.

Source: Push Journal






Uganda: Action Alert. The Ugandan government is holding at least 24 million condoms in government warehouses, creating a condom shortage and putting HIV prevention efforts in Uganda in great jeopardy. The Ugandan government supports U.S. funded abstinence-only-until marriage approach to HIV prevention. This puts millions of Ugandans at increased risk for HIV. Ugandan activists are demanding that the government immediately release the millions of condoms sitting in national warehouses; and call on it to stop funding only abstinence-until-marriage programs, and resist U.S. pressure to change the Ugandan model of success. To support Ugandan Activists you can send a letter to the Ugandan Embassy nearest to you. For more info how to write a letter go to http://capwiz.com/advofy/issues/alert/?alertid=7929526

For background information and recent press coverage of this issue, visit the Center for Gender Health and Equity’s website: http://www.genderhealth.org/uganda.php.


European Court and abortion. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg held a preliminary hearing in the case of an Irish woman who is suing the Irish State over its failure to provide abortion services in Ireland for cases of lethal foetal abnormality. The woman claims that her rights were violated by the restrictions that the 1995 Regulation of Information Act places on a doctor when advising a patient with lethal foetal abnormalities. She terminated her pregnancy in England after tests showed fetal chromosomal abnormality that would result in the death of the foetus before birth. More information:http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/0906/abortion.html







Call for Papers and Participation. The University of Athens (School of Law, Economics and Political Science) in collaboration with the Health Research Unit of the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER) is organizing their 5th International Conference in Athens, Greece, June 5-7, 2006. The aim of the conference is to bring together scholars, researchers and students from all areas of health economics, management and policy. Special Sessions will be devoted to Equity and Poverty in Health, Pharmaceutical Economics, Quality of Life, Economic Evaluation, Health Care Reforms, Social Security, School Health Programs, and Health Related Business. Please submit a 300-word abstract (by email) by December 31st, 2005 to: Dr. John Yfantopoulos, at health@atiner.gr ;
More info:







HIV/AIDS Fact sheets . The Kaiser Family Foundation released four updated HIV/AIDS-related fact sheets:

"The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic" http://www.kff.org/hivaids/3030-05.cfm

"The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the United States". http://www.kff.org/hivaids/3029-05.cfm

"Medicaid and HIV/AIDS" http://www.kff.org/hivaids/7172-02.cfm

"Medicare and HIV/AIDS http://www.kff.org/hivaids/7171-02.cfm


MDGs and HIV/AIDS. A group of seven NGOs (based in Argentina, Kenya, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and United States) just completed a small project to monitor benchmarks related to MDGs 5 and 6; it is entitled “Reproductive rights for women affected by HIV/AIDS”. A project to monitor Millennium Development Goals 5 and 6". The full 100-page report, which contains a 20-page Executive Summary, can be downloaded at: http://www.ipas.org/publications/en/MDGRR_E05_en.pdf

UN Reform and Advancing Human Rights: Notes for Sexual Rights and Reproductive Rights Advocates by Suki Beavers, ACPD's Senior Human. You must register with ACPD before downloading the entire report at http://www.acpd.ca/forms/unreform_order_frm.cfm 

Young women and HIV. “Young people's sexual health in South Africa: HIV prevalence and sexual behaviors from a nationally representative household survey.” AIDS. 19(14):1525-1534, September 23, 2005.

The Survey objectives were to determine the prevalence of HIV infection, HIV risk factors, and exposure to national HIV prevention programs, and to identify factors associated with HIV infection among South African youth, aged 15-24 years.

Methods which were used: from March to August 2003 the researchers conducted a national survey of HIV prevalence and sexual behavior among 11 904 15-24 year olds. Multivariable models for HIV infection were restricted to sexually experienced youth.

Results: Young women were significantly more likely to be infected with HIV in comparison with young men (15.5 versus 4.8%). Full text available at:










Intrauterine contraceptive devices and risk of pelvic inflammatory disease: standard of care in high STI prevalence settings. (Issues In Current Service Delivery); Richard Steen; Katharine Shapiro. Reproductive Health Matters, May 2004 v12 i23 p136(8)
Abstract:  The intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) is highly effective and cost-effective. IUD use is limited in some regions, however, due to concerns about increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and subsequent complications such as infertility and ectopic pregnancy. Recent reviews suggest that the overall risk of PID with modern IUDs is lower than previously thought, at least in regions with a low prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

For a PDF copy of the entire article, please write to reprohealth.law@utoronto.ca  


Contemporary Women’s Hell. Polish Women’s Stories. The book consist of stories of 10 women who have experienced the consequences of Poland’s restrictive anti-abortion law. This stories come from two publication of the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning, “Women’s Hell – Contemporary Stories” (2001) and “Women’s Hell Continues…” (2004) published in Polish. Some of women whose stories are told here spoke publicly about their experience during two tribunals on the right to choose organized by the Federation in 2001 and 2004.

For hard copy in English or French write to Federation for Women and Family Planning office: federa@astra.org.pl


Microbicides: An Essential HIV Prevention Strategy for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals. This policy paper outlines the role that microbicides could play in helping to address the challenge that HIV poses to poverty reduction and the human development agenda, and urges world leaders to accord greater priority to the development and delivery of much-needed public health goods such as microbicides which are essential for achieving the MDGs.

For hard copies of the paper, contact Allison Clifford at aclifford@ipm-microbicides.org or Tessa Mattholie at tmattholie@ipm-microbicides.org


Woman-centered abortion care: Trainer’s manual. This trainer's manual is intended for use by trainers who lead trainings in woman-centered abortion care for a broad audience, including health-care workers, administrators, program managers, health educators and social workers. Designed to accompany the Woman-Centered Abortion Care: Reference Manual, this manual presents learner-centered, participatory training methods. It comes with a CD-ROM that includes PowerPoint® presentations, additional training resources and adaptable training exercises.

Available only in hard copy and for health-care providers outside the United States.

To order please e-mail ipas_publications@ipas.org.