CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights 

No 5 (39) 2006


table of contents:






The 2006 High-Level Meeting and comprehensive review of the progress achieved in the implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS will take place on 31 May - 2 June at the United Nations in New York. The meeting will involve all sectors of international community, governments, civil society and the private sector. An unprecedented number of almost 800 civil society organizations have been granted accreditation, apart from those already accredited by ECOSOC. The civil society will be provided with the opportunity to exchange views with Member States during the hearing organized on 31 May. The hearing will be chaired by the president of the General Assembly or his representative and organized with participation of people living with HIV and broader civil society. The involvement of civil society will also include presentation slots in plenary, roundtable and panel sessions. The panel discussions are expected to focus on the following themes:

·       Breaking the cycle of HIV infection for sustainable AIDS responses

·       Overcoming capacity constraints that inhibit current emergency responses and the movement towards universal access to antiretroviral therapy

·       Ending the increased feminization of AIDS

·       Sustainable and predictable financing for scaled-up AIDS responses

·       Overcoming stigma and discrimination and changing the way societies respond to people living with HIV.

A political declaration will be adopted at the culmination of the High-level Meeting on 2nd June. Meanwhile the civil society has been undertaking activities aimed at influencing the review process and the final declaration. In April the ASTRA Network sent an open letter to the Austrian Presidency of the European Union calling on the EU to strengthen its further commitments to more effective prevention of HIV/AIDS interlinked with sexual and reproductive health and rights policies as well as to address the crucial related issues during the UNGASS review. 






Czech Republic: number of abortions. Thanks to the promotion of contraception and more effective pregnancy prevention the number of abortions in the Czech Republic dropped in 2005 by 4 percent compared with 2004. One fifth of the total number of abortions, which is 26,450, was performed because of health reasons. 35 percent of women who terminated their pregnancy already have two children. Childless women who applied for the procedure constitute 27 percent. The number of miscarriages is about 30 percent of all early terminated pregnancies and is quite stable.



Poland: child support in case of the denial of legal abortion. Polish Supreme Court decided that the woman who was denied  legal abortion after she had been raped has the right to sue the proprietor of the hospital for costs related to bringing up the child. The case was brought by a women who wanted to terminate the 11-week pregnancy and had received the required certificates from the gynecologist  and the prosecutor. When she called the hospital, the doctors estimated the  gestation for 14 weeks. The divergence of the opinions made it impossible for her to have a legal abortion since the time limit for terminating the pregnancy in case of rape is the end of the 12th week. When the baby was born it became obvious that the doctors in the hospital were wrong. The woman lost the case in civil courts, but the Supreme Court repealed and the case went back to the lower court. This court, in turn, asked the Supreme Court for a decision if the costs of child rearing in this woman's case can be treated as "damage" which qualifies for compensation. The answer of the Supreme Court is “yes”.

Federation for Women and Family Planning 


Poland: The conservative Polish government announced its plan to reactivate the National Team for the Promotion of Natural Family Planning. The crossministerial team will consist of gynecologists, obstetricians, teachers and anti-abortion activists.

Federation for Women and Family Planning 


Russia: HIV in St. Petersburg. According to Rospotrebnadzor - a new organization working in infectious disease surveillance and control in the Russian Federation over 1,000 new HIV cases were recorded in St. Petersburg during the first quarter of 2006. This means that the situation has not improved. In St. Petersburg the percentage of people aware that they are HIV positive and who seek assistance is lower than the national average - and is 56% compared to 63% in all of Russia.

Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report 


Ukraine: World bank suspends HIV/AIDS project. The World Bank announced that it has suspended the 60 million USD project aimed at combating Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in Ukraine because of lack of progress in the implementation and the government’s failure to distribute the funds of which only 2% has been spent during three years. Paul Bermingham, World Bank Director for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova said that this action is being taken by the World Bank since "the project has failed to make any significant impact on the growing threat of HIV/AIDS in Ukraine and the neighboring countries." The focus of project was to stop the spread of the TB and HIV/AIDS among drug users, sex workers and prisoners by using proven methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Although the project has been suspended, the World Bank remains committed to supporting Ukraine's efforts to prevent transmission and hopes for reconstructing the project so it could be implemented effectively.



Uzbekistan: safe maternity. The regional conference "Making safe maternity a reality" organized in Tashkent  by UNFPA hosted governments representatives as well as UNFPA, WHO and INICEF officers, from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. During the meeting the strategies to mainstream maternal mortality reduction to reproductive health programmes were discussed and the first step was made towards working out the National Roadmaps for attaining the millennium Development Goals related to maternal and newborn health. According to MDG document the maternal mortality rate should be reduced by three quarters before 2015 and by two thirds the mortality ratio of children under five.








United Kingdom: Free condoms in night taxis. The Safe Ride Home project aimed at reducing the number of sexually transmitted infections will be  launched in several cities across UK in the next few months. Taxi drivers are provided with free condoms in discreet, black envelopes which they could give to the passengers on their request on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The program was already tested in Brighton last year.


European Union: Guidelines on safety and quality of human cells and tissues. In February the Commission of European Communities adopted technical rules for dealing with human cells and tissues, including reproductive cells, throughout the Union. The new rules set out the requirements related to donation, procurement, processing, preservation, storage and distribution. The document also introduces the traceability standards which will ensure that the cell or tissue can be followed from the donor to the patient and back. "Hundreds of thousands of EU citizens every year undergo some form of treatment based on the use of human tissues and cells, and they must be able to trust in the safety and quality of this process. The legislation that we have set down will ensure that this is the case - wherever the tissue and cells come from or are received within the EU" - said Markos Kyprianou, Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner. The decision on which cells and tissues are permitted is under responsibility of the state.   

More: http://europa.eu.int/comm/health/ph_threats/human_substance/press_tissues_cells_en.htm  


Reproductive Cell Donation in the European Union. In February the European Union published the report on the legal regulations concerning the reproductive cell donation in EU Member States. The report is based on the questionnaires and addresses the issues of confidentiality, anonymity, non-remuneration, compensation, consent for egg cell donation as well as importation and exportation of reproductive cells. The report covers the situation in 22 member states and shows significant differences between the legal regulations. For example, in 12 states the importation and exportation of the cells remains unregulated by the law.



European Union: Fund for research on embryonic stem cells – petition. World Congress for Freedom of Scientific Research and Luca Coscioni Association launched a petition calling on the European Parliament to ensure that the Seventh Framework Programme on Research at least to confirm the funding of research projects on stem cells obtained from supernumerary embryos and that eligibility to funding be extended to research projects on nuclear transfer. The petition was signed by Noble Prize winners, scientists and several members of EU Parliament.  


HIV-protective gel available by 2010. The researchers attending the Microbicides 2006 Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, said that  microbicide which will help women protect themselves from the HIV virus could be available by 2010 if the clinical trials involving thousands of women prove successful. According to Rita Ramjee, Director of the HIV Prevention Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council, the results from five clinical trials should be available by 2008. 2010 would be the earliest date for the microbicide to be available on the market provided that the governments speed up the approval processes.  The microbicides delivered in the form of gels, films and  sponges, can be especially useful in societies where men are reluctant to use condoms.

Kaiser HIV/AIDS Report, Associated Press 


UNFPA: 700,000 more midwives needed. On 7th April, the World Health Day, the United Nations Population Fund called for increased investment in the health sector, including sexual and reproductive health. It also paid special tribute to midwives who play a crucial role in saving the lives and improving the health of mothers and infants worldwide. „Despite their importance – UNFPA message says – they often face poor working conditions, inadequate supplies and support and, as female health workforce, are subject to gender discrimination.” In many countries there is a shortage of midwives. In order to provide universal access to good quality care at birth and to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of improving maternal health 700,000 more midwives are needed.



Vatican: Easing ban on condom use? The interview given to Italian L’Espresso newsweekly by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, retired archbishop of Milan, in which he stated that using condoms by spouses of which one is HIV positive is choosing “the lesser of two evils” preceded the news that the Vatican plans to release a document allowing condom use within marriage to prevent HIV infection. This information was denied by cardinal Javier Lazano Barragan, head of Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, who said that the council will only draft an internal study on the subject. He added that it will be the Pope who will make the  decision whether the Vatican will release the document or not.

Kaiser Daily 


USA: Abstinence AIDS plan criticized by GAO. The US Government Accountability Office issued a report which analyzed the results of the US Global Leadership on HIV, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 (President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief known as PEPFAR). The law supports an approach often described as ABC – Abstain, Be Faithful or Use Condoms - and requires that at least 33 percent of prevention funding be spent on “abstinence-until-marriage” programs. Although in theory the program should be designed to meet the local HIV prevention needs, in practice the requirements limit the ability to allocate the funds in a way that would address the prevention priorities of the supported countries. According to the GAO report this has been experienced by 17 of 20 country teams of US workers. Two-thirds of the teams reported that the guidelines created confusion about how to implement the ABC model under PEPFAR. The US government’s emphasis on abstinence in a program aimed at combating HIV/AIDS undermines the effectiveness of the 15 billion dollars prevention project and hampers efforts in the countries that are meant to be helped. 

PUSH, The Center for Health and Gender Equity








Call for Support. A call to sign-on to a set of civil society recommendations for the political declaration of the high level meeting on AIDS to be held in New York on 31 May - 2 June 2006. The document includes proposed language for 60 priority issues for the Political Declaration that reflects the work, discussions and consultations of a broad and diverse group of thousands of civil society organizations.  It has drawn on reports of civil society consultation meetings and processes, reports from civil society country monitoring of UNGASS implementation, specific language proposed by civil society for the Universal Access consultations processes, and many more existing recommendations coming from civil society groups around the world.  The recommendations are therefore based on their priorities and commitment of all these groups. Copies of recommendations are available at: www.icaso.org. The organization’s endorsement/sign-on should be sent to the email: universalaccess@icaso.org


The on-line discussion forum on Integration of Family Planning Counselling and HIV/AIDS services:  The Department of Reproductive Health and Research in collaboration with partners form the Implementing Best Practices are organizing on-line global discussion forum focused on "Client and provider perspectives on integration of Family Planning Counseling and HIV/AIDS services". The forum will be available on 1-26 May. Each week the forum discussion will focus on specific aspect of the issue: week 1 will be a follow-up of the video conference held on March 2006 during which the project was initiated; week 2 will focus on provider perspectives/barriers to including FP counseling in HIV/AIDS counseling; week 3 will focus on client perspectives on FP counseling in HIV/AIDS settings; week 4 will be devoted to discussions of future directions/challenges/barriers.

More information on the forum and on how to participate at: http://www.fpandhiv.org/videoconference/ibpforuminvitation.php 


9th Congress of ESC: 9th Congress of The European Society of Contraception "Improving Life Quality Through Contraception And Reproductive Health Care" takes place in Istanbul, Turkey, on 3-6 May 2006. 


ASTRA's letter on HIV/AIDS prevention policy to EU presidency. In an open letter sent to Mr. Wolfgang Schüssel, Austrian Presidency of EU, ASTRA called on EU to strengthen further commitments during the UNGASS review to effective HIV/AIDS prevention strongly interlinked with SRHR policies and programs. Among other issues addressed in the letter ASTRA also urged EU to encourage Member States, Applicant and Neighboring countries to promote SRHR and to provide young people with information, education and services on issues related to HIV/AIDS.



Journal of Sexualities, Gender + Justice - call for papers. The Journal of Sexualities, Gender + Justice invites submissions on the topic of Just love, and encourages analyses across plural and different sexualities and genders, including but not limited to heterosexual, queer, intersex, transgender, masculinities and femininities and analyses that address the appearance of law in different sites, such as word and image, popular culture, cinema, policy, daily life, judgments and legislation.  Submissions due 30 June 2006. More information on the Journal, the topics and style of submissions available at: www.jsgj.org







United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS: The High-Level Meeting will take place on 31 May - 2 June 2006 at the United Nations in New York. The main focus of the meeting is to review progress in implementing the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, focusing on both constraints and opportunities to full implementation; consider recommendations on how the targets set in the Declaration may be reached and to renew political commitment.



The EuroNGOs Conference on advancing sexual health and rights:  The EuroNGOs Conference and Membership meeting on “Advancing Sexual & Reproductive Health and Rights Internationally: What Role for the Enlarged EU?” will be held on 8-9 June 2006, in Vilnius, Lithuania. This meeting is hosted by the Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (FPSHA), Lithuania on behalf of EuroNGOs. The overall goal of the EuroNGOs Conference is to build a more complete understanding of the challenges and benefits of EU leadership in advancing SRHR internationally. The conference will address the specific need to increase the capacity of civil society in the New Member States to engage in and influence EU Development Policy. The conference will also provide a crucial space for constructive dialogue and strategizing between EU and New Member State decision-makers, parliamentarians, UN experts and civil society organizations from both the ‘old’ and New Member States.

Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (FPSHA), Lithuania



7th Congress of FIAPAC:  The seventh Congress of International Federation of Professional Abortion and Contraception Associates “Freedom and rights in reproductive health” will take place on 13-14 October in Rome, Italy. The free communications and the abstracts for posters in English are welcome until 1st of July. The preliminary programme and information concerning registration are available at: http://www.fiapac.org/e/RomePrelProgr2.html   


Youth seminar on fighting homophobia. The youth seminar "Fighting homophobia in School" will be organized on 2-5 June 2006 in Bucharest, Romania, by the ACCEPT association. The seminar aims at providing young people from Eastern and Western Europe with a forum to share experiences on creating secure and friendly surroundings for LGBT youngsters in the environments they mostly frequent.



Changemakers Innovation Award. The Changemaker Innovation Award is the competition on "How to Improve Health for All." open to all types of organizations (charitable organizations, private companies, or public entities) from all countries. Online competition submissions are accepted until May 24, 2006 at noon, U.S. Eastern Time. More information on the criteria and phases in the competition available at:









The Righttodecide.org website, launched in September 2004, is no longer updated. However, throughout the web many alternative sources of information on Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health remain available.


The Center for Health and Gender Equity and Health GAP (Global Access Project) are launching PEPFAR Watch, a new website intended to share information about U.S. global AIDS policy. The new site is found at www.pepfarwatch.org. The PEPFAR Watch is intended to be a central source for news on U.S. global AIDS law, policy, programs, and funding streams; analysis, critique, and debate on U.S. global AIDS policies. and related concerns around sexual and reproductive health, treatment access, voluntary counseling and testing, and other critical issues









The World Health Report 2006 - Working together for health, published by WHO on World Health Day 2006, contains an expert assessment of the current crisis in the global health workforce and ambitious proposals to tackle it over the next ten years. The report reveals an estimated shortage of almost 4.3 million doctors, midwives, nurses and support workers worldwide but most severe in the poorest countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Focusing on all stages of the health workers' career lifespan from entry to health training, to job recruitment through to retirement, the report lays out a ten-year action plan in which countries can build their health workforces, with the support of global partners.

The report is available at: http://www.who.int/whr/2006/en/index.html  


Resource Book for Working Against Trafficking in Human Beings in the CIS and the Baltic Sea Region, Angel Coalition, 2005. The publication is a tool for networking and collaboration against trafficking in human beings in CIS and the Baltic Sea Region, as especially as regards repatriation and rehabilitation of victims.

The book available to download at: http://www.angelcoalition.org/pdf/2005ResourceBookENG.pdf    


Reproductive Health and Human Rights. Integrating Medicine, Ethics, and Law. Rebecca J. Cook, Bernard M. Dickens, Mahmoud F. Fathalla. Oxford University Press, 2003. The authoritative guide to principles of reproductive health worldwide providing accessible, non-technical explanations of specific health issues and integrating medicine, ethics, law, and human rights in case-studies drawn from a variety of contexts. The book equips readers to handle challenges in their own health care circumstances. 


Human Rights In The OSCE Region: Europe, Central Asia and North America, Report 2006 (Events of 2005), International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights. Gender issues are included in the country chapters. The full report on human rights violation will be published in June 2006. Parts of the report (the chapters by country) are already posted by IHF of it on its website: