We are relieved to hear that the attempt by Slovakia’s ruling coalition to restrict Slovak women’s right to abortion has been voted down by parliament today.
In so doing, parliamentarians have saved women from a slew of retrogressive measures which would have deprived them of access to information about abortion, forced them to justify their decision to professionals from two distinct healthcare institutions, and obliged them to wait 96 hours between their decision to seek abortion and the attainment of care.
These were measures without any grounding in medical guidance and which serve only to make women’s access to healthcare more difficult, degrading and unsafe.
Happily, the parliament has voted to adhere to WHO guidelines and international human rights law, and to not break step with the Slovak public who are against further restrictions to abortion, according to a 2018 poll.
IPPF EN is grateful to the men and women who mobilized to defend reproductive rights, making their voices heard in spite of current restrictions on public gatherings due to the COVID-19 crisis. This is the second time in as many years that they have been forced to streets in defense of human rights.
"We are all very happy that reproductive rights in Slovakia remain untouched. The restrictive draft law did not pass and I believe it is also thanks to the mobilisation of women and men around the country as well as huge support from abroad. The voice of solidarity makes a difference. However, the MPs who submitted the draft law already announced that they are going to continue in their efforts to restrict access to safe and legal abortion. This is not going to end soon and we need sustainable strategies for feminist politics." said Zuzana Maďarová, Slovak researcher and Nebudeme ticho activist.
This regressive initiative cannot be seen outside the context of a broader trend of hostility towards women’s reproductive freedom. At this very moment, Polish women are waiting to hear whether their Constitutional Court will ban access to abortion care in cases of severe fetal anomaly (one of the only circumstances where abortion is accessible, in practice). We know that Polish women are sometimes forced to travel to Slovakia to seek abortion care, it is a small mercy that this option has at least been kept open.