CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights 

No 11 (33) 2005


table of contents:






27-30 October. Bangkok. CEE and FSU Caucus at the AWID Forum. During the 10th  International AWID Forum  in Bangkok which gathered 1,800 participants, mainly women, from 120 countries, circa 70 women from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the former Soviet Union met every day early in the morning to discuss women’s issues in our region. Among most pressing problems, the CEE Caucus identified the growing religious fundamentalist tendencies of most dominant religions, which contributed to the increasing impact of religious institutions on political decisions of the state. The revival of the patriarchal values in the societies  has weakened significantly the position of women in the family, as well as in professional and political life. Conservative policies increasingly threaten women’s reproductive and sexual lives and choices. In many countries restrictive legislation is being considered. The burden of domestic work, including child rearing is overwhelmingly  borne by women due to the collapse of state support policies for child-care such, as nurseries and preschools. Growing unemployment among women and decreased participation of women in politics have been also identified as serious barriers in development. 

The Caucus participants expressed interest in strengthening the collaboration between women of the region and in the development of a regional platform and agenda following the AWID Forum. Further discussions will be continued via internet and during the European Feminist Forum planned in 2006/7. 

The Caucus has been convened by regional networks including NWP/OSI, NEWW, ASTRA.

Wanda Nowicka


It was nice to belong to such a big network [ASTRA], and see that people recognize you as a part of something big and famous, and no matter if I am very young they found me serious enough.” – Jovana  Kusic (ASTRA Youth) 

“Forming the ASTRA Network is one of the gains for women’s rights movement in our region.” - Andrijana Trajanowska (ASTRA Youth)

“We have to address the huge backlash and support each other to deal with current political movements.” – Barbara Limanovska

“The AWID Forum was a great opportunity for making contacts and exchanging experiences among girls and women who work on the same issues, but in so many various environments.” – Monika Nowak (ASTRA Youth)  

“We are still at the stage of building our identities versus building a global women’s movement and we are not really successful; it is a challenge for us to be more visible and more proactive in pushing our agenda.” – Wanda Nowicka (ASTRA)

If you want to know more, please follow the link and find the ASTRA Report on the 10th AWID International Forum on Women's Rights and Development prepared by Daniela Draghici: http://www.astra.org.pl/articles.php?id=102







13 October. Poland: Wrongful birth Verdict. The Supreme Court in Poland made a precedent ruling according to which parents can demand compensation to cover the cost of wrongful birth of their child carrying serious genetic conditions. This is a great victory despite the fact that the case is returning to the Court of Appeal but this time with the instructions received from the Supreme Court. The appeal court has previously ruled that the doctors of the hospital in Lomza broke the law refusing to provide pregnant woman with prenatal tests, but since the tests would not definitely prove if the fetus was carrying the condition when there was still enough time for an abortion the parents are not entitled for compensation. It has been argued that the Appeal Court did not take into consideration the opinion of the expert who stated that the condition of the fetus could be detected. Further, the lower court did not take into consideration the fact that in Poland abortion is admissible when there is “high probability” of disability and when there are “other indications”, not just the results of prenatal tests. In this case the fact that the older child of the couple suffers from a serious genetic disorder should have been such an indication. 

The representative of the parents argued that the hospital made the  de facto decision that the child should be born, therefore it should share financial responsibility for the cost associated with caring for the child. The amount of the compensation will be decided by the Court of Appeal.


17 October. Belgium: ASTRA’s and CRR Contributions at the session E.U. Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights. ASTRA and Center for Reproductive Rights, invited to consultative meeting with the E.U. Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights, had an opportunity to provide information to this body on sexual and reproductive health and rights’ violations occurring within European Union Member States. Written comments were also submitted. The paper provides background information about the situation in Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia. For more information contact ASTRA Secretariat.




18 October. Lithuania: Success of the Lithuanian pro-choice activists. On 18th October the Seimas (parliament) was due to discuss the draft Law on the Protection of Life in the Prenatal Phase signed by a group of 30 members of the Seimas. However, the Assembly of Elders of the Seimas removed this draft law from the agenda of the session on the basis of the opinion prepared by the Legal Department of the Seimas.

Mr Valdemaras Tomaševskis, leader of the Polish Election Action of Lithuania and initiator of the draft law, protested that the commandments of the God were not an intrinsic part of the Lithuanian legal system. 

The Legal Department of the Seimas argued that the authors of the draft law infringed the freedom of self-determination of a pregnant woman, ignored the right of access to information laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights and discriminated against the people of different faiths living in Lithuania and some women.
Esmeralda Kuliesyte (LFPA)

For more information write to Family Planning  and Sexual Health Association of Lithuania:  lithfpa@takas.lt


23 October. Poland. The new Polish president has been elected. Since 23rd of October Poland has a new President - Lech Kaczynski – a very conservative politician obsessed with the idea ‘cleansing’ Poland of its communist past. He is an EU skeptic and pro-US. He also opposes reproductive rights. Further, he strongly opposes rights of sexual minorities. Consequently, Poland now has a right wing parliament and government headed by Peace and Justice (PiS) and right wing president, also from PiS. As far as reproductive rights are concerned it can have very negative consequences; the fundamentalist League of Polish Families (LPR) called last week for further restrictions to the existing extremely restrictive anti-abortion law, arguing that having a conservative government creates an unique opportunity for such changes. LPR wants to make it illegal to access abortion in case of serious health conditions of the fetus, and in cases when the pregnancy is a consequence of incest or rape. The new speaker of the Parliament declared the draft will be discussed and the principle of the full protection of life must be respected.


Czech Republic:policy to increase birth rate. In order to address low fertility rate in the Czech Republic the government of the country has approved a new policy. According to it mothers would be able to take three years of maternity leave at any time until the child is eight years old. Currently, the Czech Republic has the longest maternity leave in Europe. Women are entitled to 28 weeks maternity leave at 70 percent of pay, then a further three years' leave during which employers must keep women's jobs for them. But this does not seem to be effective in increasing the Czech birth rate, which is one of the lowest in the world. The new policy takes the issues further then maternity leave, fathers will be entitled to receive financial support if they decide to take time off work to care for the child instead of the mother or take leave if their child is sick. The policy also foresees higher social payments and tax breaks for families. It also calls on child care centers to adjust their opening hours to families' needs and for measures to encourage employers to set up nurseries and play areas in workplaces.   

Source: Push Journal


Hungary: Abortion Pill. Several hundred protesters, including former Health Minister demonstrated against the planned introduction of the abortion pill in front of the Ministry of Health. In July the Ministry of Health accepted the Hungarian College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology’s recommendation to license RU-486. The pill is not available on the market yet and the National Pharmaceutical Institute has yet to add the pill to their register. Therefore, more advocacy work is needed to make medical abortion accessible to Hungarian women.   http://www.budapesttimes.hu/index.php?art=1077


Russia: spiraling HIV. According to a UN report released in the beginning of October almost one in 150 people in Russia lives with HIV/AIDS which means that HIV infection in the Russian Federation has acquired an epidemic character. According to a UNDP statement, 860,000 people live with HIV/AIDS in Russia, which has a population of about 148 million.

Full text of the article: http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=109742


Slovakia: False and Misleading Information on Coercive Sterilization. In response to the publication by the Slovak General Prosecutor's office of extremely misleading information about the coercive sterilization of women, including Roma women, in Slovakia, the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) sent a letter to Slovak Prime Minister. The letter calls on the Prime Minister to publicly correct the information; and affirm that the Slovak government is committed to ensuring justice to all identified victims. On 21 September 2004, the ERRC submitted, under a confidential complaint mechanism available before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women ("CEDAW Article 8 procedure"), details in relation to cases of 49 Roma women. This complaint included details of cases of sterilization conducted without consent and cases of sterilization where consent was obtained by coercion. The CEDAW communication produced in response states that CEDAW is concerned that there were individual cases of sterilization of Roma women without consent or with consent obtained by coercion and that this issue has not been sufficiently addressed. 

More information is available at:





Ukraine: campaign to encourage parenthood. In order to reverse long term decrease of birth rate in Ukraine an extensive campaign has been launched by the President Viktor Yushchenko's government. The campaign consists of billboards with slogans such as: "We don't have enough Nobel winners - make love to one another!" It also includes giving new mothers US$1,500 (8,460 Ukrainian hryvna or euro 1,246) and advertising campaigns highlighting the joys of parenthood.
Early figures suggest the campaign has effects. The health ministry expects 440,000 newborns this year, 30,000 more than last year. Some officials expect an even greater increase.
Ukraine has a birth rate of 1.2 per woman, compared to a European average of 1.4. The drop in the birth rate has been caused by variety of factors including the Chernobyl explosion which generated fears among women about having babies, the poverty and deterioration of the public health system.
Tetiana Zakharova, chairwoman of the Kharkiv-based Federation of Families, however, said the payments increase, had just been a good election strategy. She claimed that women in remote regions often are not benefiting because local officials pocket the payments. Still
pregnant woman are increasingly visible on the streets of Ukraine.
Full text article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/ukraine/story/0,15569,1585780,00.html


4th November, Poland: The new Prime Minister dismissed the Government Plenipotentiary for Gender Equality despite the protests of almost eighty NGOs elimination of the government equality mechanism by the right-wing decision-makers was expected to happen. However, it raises the question how the Polish Government will comply with the strong EU policies regarding equal treatment of men and women and whether the government will access substantial EU funds for equality. 



Last Friday (Nov. 4th) the Polish Prime Minister announced that the office of Plenipotentiary for Equal Status,  a central administration body responsible for the delivery of basic policies counteracting discrimination, supporting gender equality and offering equal opportunities for marginalized groups will be liquidated.   
During the four years of its activity, the Office of Plenipotentiary for Equal Status of Women and Men has been effectively active in the field of counteracting discrimination, contributing to changes in Polish legislation, introducing the issue of equality into the public discourse and successfully implementing projects financed from EU sources.   
80 Polish NGOs (women, LGBT and other representing national and religious minorities) sent on Friday a protest to the Prime Minister. It would be great if you could also support us and send a protest to the Polish Prime Minister. Contact details:  Mr. Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz;  Prime Minister of Poland; Al. Ujazdowskie 1/3, 00-583 Warsaw, Poland; Phone (0-22) 694-60-00, Fax (0-22) 625-26-37; e-mail: cirinfo@kprm.gov.pl
Fallow the link and find a proposed text of the letter: 
Please send copies to neww@neww.org.pl
Malgorzata Tarasiewicz (NEWW)




EU and HIV/AIDS. According to UNAIDS Executive Director the number of HIV infections across Europe is increasing and countries need to boost their fight against the disease. According to EU statistics, the number of newly reported HIV cases in the EU has almost doubled since 1996. The greatest increase took place in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Full text http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=31614



Cancer Research. The Feminist Majority Foundation has long been encouraging and advocating clinical trials using mifepristone, an anti-progesterone medication formerly known as RU 486 that has the potential to treat many life-threatening illnesses which disproportionately affect women. Now the Feminist Majority Foundation will sponsor clinical trials testing mifepristone's ability to treat patients with progesterone-dependent uterine and ovarian cancers. Mifepristone could be for progesterone-dependent breast cancer what tamoxifin is for estrogen-dependent breast cancer. The only difference is that about 40% of breast cancers are estrogen-dependent, while 60% are progesterone-dependent. More information http://feminist.org/rrights/cancer.htm
If you want to make a contribution for funds needed for the trials go to


Cervical Cancer Vaccine. The results of a decade of research lead to the development of a vaccine that shows an unprecedented 100% efficacy in fighting the dominant strains of the virus that causes cervical cancer. This cancer is the second biggest cancer killer of women around the world. The human papilloma virus, or HPV, which causes cervical cancer, is in most cases transmitted through sexual intercourse hence the vaccine should be administered to young girls before they become sexually active. This caused concerns among Christian conservatives who argue that the vaccine would lead to promiscuity and undermine abstinence. Its unknown what stand the conservative groups will take but unfortunately this can have an impact on the availability of the vaccine on the market which is still at least one year away. To receive full text article on this issue write to reprohealth.law@utoronto.ca


18th October. Portugal: Young People and SRHR. On October 18th in the Parliament of Lisbon, Portugal, over 145 young leaders from political parties, NGOs, and youth governmental bodies, such as the Portuguese Institute for Youth and National Youth Council, signed the ‘Lisbon Declaration’, a historic agreement on sexual and reproductive health and rights. The agreements covered such issues as protecting young people form unplanned pregnancy and unsafe abortion, sexual violence, and other threats to their health and rights For more information write to Alice Frade, Portuguese Family Planning Association (APF), Alicefrade@apf.pt

Source: YouAct


Hollywood and HIV/AIDS. Doctors accuse Hollywood of irresponsible portrayal of sex. A review of some of the biggest blockbusters from the last 20 years showed that only one movie made reference to a condom. None of the top 200 films promoted safe sex, and nobody ended up with an unwanted pregnancy or any infection. The doctors, writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, say filmmakers should reflect the real consequences of unsafe sex and illicit drug use in their work. Full text http://www.guardian.co.uk/aids/story/0,7369,1583575,00.html





18th October. Public Hearing on Abortion. A Public Hearing on Abortion took place in the European Parliament, on the 18th of October 2005. Several women from EU member countries were witnessing the EU Parliament talking about the lack of access to safe and legal abortion in their countries and the consequences of this. The meeting focused on the situation of women in Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. One of the witnesses - Alicja (Polish citizen) decided to file the complaint to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and in February 2005 the court communicated the case to the Polish government and requested that a number of specific questions be answered. The case is still open. 

During the final debate  Towards an EU with no discrimination the following issues were addressed: What should the EU do? Should abortion laws be up to each member state? Is abortion an issue for the EU? What could EU citizens do for one another and civil society? And more… Panel consisted of MEPs: Anne van Lancker (PSE), Karin Resetarits (ALDE/ADLE), Vicky Claeys (IPPFEN), Wanda Nowicka (Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning), Katarina Lindahl (RFSU), Elfride Harth (CFFC), Christina Zampas (Center for Reproductive Rights). 

In the relation to the event Members of the European Parliament have sent an Open Letter to the media ‘Make abortion a right for all women in the European Union’. The letter is their voice against EU silence in the connection with SRHR as women’s rights including safe abortion service and was signed by MEPs: Lena Ek, Anna Hedh, Anne van Lancker, Józef Pinior, Karin Resetarits, Claire Gibault, Alain  Lipietz, Jean-Luc Bennahmias, Lissy Groener, Katalin Lévai, Rolandas Pavilionis, Ilda Figueiredo, Ana Maria Gomes, Jamila Madeira, María Elena Valenciano Martinez-Orozco, Eva-Britt Svensson.








Fundamental Rights. In September 2002 the European Commission instituted the EU Network of Independent Experts in the field of Fundamental Rights. This Group of experts is entrusted with the follow-up of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In particular, it must evaluate, on an annual basis, the respect by the Member States and the institutions of the Union of the rights, freedoms and principles listed in the Charter. The Group also delivers Opinions on questions linked to fundamental rights, upon the request of the European Commission. More information concerning the Network, its composition, its mandate, and its

Methodology http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/justice_home/cfr_cdf/index_en.htm


New Website. Youth Incentives, the International Programme on Sexuality developed by Rutgers Nisso Group, has just launched its new website http://www.youthincentives.org, the website provides young people or people working with youth with various information and support.


Summit Outcomes. Detailed analysis of the 2005 World Summit Outcome compiled by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Family Care International (FCI), United Methodist UN Office, and Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) http://www.beijingandbeyond.org/FinalSummitReportBack.html






HIV/AIDS. New Report on Reproductive Rights for Women Affected by HIV/AIDS:



World Youth Report 2005. World Youth Report 2005 - Young People, Today and in 2015 from UNDESA reflects a very different approach from that of the earlier edition. The main findings of the 2003 Report remain valid. http://topics.developmentgateway.org/youth/rc/ItemDetail.do~1049411?intcmp=700


Canadian Publication. Fall issue of the magazine of the Canadian Women's Health Network: