Slovak Parliament is to discuss another draft law aiming to limit access to abortion in the country in the upcoming days.
The draft law (Print no. 665) was proposed by a group of MPs from OĽANO (Ordinary People and Independent Personalities), a leading governmental party. It proposes a number of amendments into various laws including laws on abortion, health care, advertising, social services and security, and on the provision of subsidies within the Competence of the Government Office of the Slovak Republic.
As reported by our friends from Center for Reproductive Rights, the draft law contains legislative proposals concerning abortion including:
- Proposals to extend a mandatory waiting period requirement
- Currently Slovak law imposes a 48-hour mandatory waiting period for accessing abortion on request. Abortion on request (without the need to specify a reason for abortion) is permitted up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
- The bill proposes to increase the mandatory waiting period requirement from 48 hours to 96 hours. It also proposes to extend the application of the mandatory waiting period to include any abortion except when a woman’s health or life is at immediate risk.
- The bill proposes that the mandatory waiting period starts to run when the doctor sends a report confirming that the woman received mandated information about pregnancy termination to the National Health Information Center. The report would have to be sent to the NHIC immediately after the doctor determines that all legal requirements for performing an abortion have been met.
- Proposals concerning mandatory information on abortion
- Currently Slovak law requires that women seeking abortion care receive “instruction” that includes information on the “physical and psychological risks” associated with abortion, “the current development stage of the embryo or fetus,” and “alternatives to abortion” such as adoption and support in pregnancy from civic and religious organizations. This information must be provided to all women prior to abortion and they are not able to refuse it. These requirements were introduced in 2009 with the explicit goal of dissuading women from obtaining abortion services.
- The bill proposes extending the mandated information outlined above to include non-medical information such as information on maternity, parental, and child benefits and on financial incentives related to pregnancy. At the same time, the bill proposes to eliminate the current requirement in the abortion law explicitly requiring a doctor to provide information on contraceptive methods and their use.
- The bill also proposes to permit doctors to fulfill their obligation to provide the mandated information on abortion in writing by providing written information prepared by civil society organizations, foundations, churches or religious organizations as long as such information is identical with the information mandated by a ministerial by-law.
- In addition, the bill proposes to enable civil society organizations, foundations, churches or religious organizations that provide assistance to pregnant women to obtain subsidies from the budget of the Slovak Government Office.
- Proposal to ban the public provision of information on abortion (so called “abortion advertising”)
- The bill proposes to prohibit “advertising on the need or availability of induced pregnancy termination, services or goods provided or offered for the purposes of terminating pregnancy”.
- Proposals to collect new personal information including information on reasons for a decision to have an abortion
- The bill proposes widening the range of personal information that a doctor must collect from a woman requesting an abortion and send to the National Health Information Center for statistical purposes.
- The new personal information would include information on reasons for the abortion other than health reasons as well as information on “the situation in the household.” The woman would have to provide this information when requesting an abortion.
- Mandating the Ministry of Health to oversee compliance with the mandatory waiting period and the mandated information provision and to conduct other activities
- The bill proposes authorizing the Ministry of Health to oversee compliance with the requirements on the provision of informed consent and mandated information on abortion and with the mandatory waiting period requirement.
- The bill also proposes to mandate the Ministry of Health to issue an annual report on abortion in Slovakia which should contain: “a) analysis of statistical data collected on abortion; b) results of the control activities conducted in healthcare facilities performing abortions; c) analysis of reasons for abortions; and d) proposed measures to decrease number of abortions, to support responsible parenthood and to support a favorable demographic development.”
- The bill also mandates the Ministry of Health to offer trainings on the provision of mandated information and instruction to doctors performing abortions as well as other persons who participate in the provision of such information and instruction.