June 11, 2013

The President must not sign the Decree for Proclamation of the Law on Termination of Pregnancy

The Network for Protection against Discrimination strongly condemns the text about the Law on Termination of Pregnancy, as well as the manner in which this law is prepared, proposed and adopted. This last period there were various reactions from domestic and foreign organizations concerning the restriction of the reproductive rights of women, which did not contribute to its withdrawal, and did not delay the adoption of the law. Unfortunately, the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia adopted the draft law in a short procedure.

The adopted Law on Termination of Pregnancy introduces restrictive mechanisms which to a large extent influence the creation of free will among women to terminate the pregnancy or not. The Ministry of Health through the provisions for submitting a written request for termination of pregnancy, as well as a mandatory counseling of the pregnant women with the doctor, by prescribing the form and content of the request and the content and manner of counseling, creates an opportunity to manipulate and restrict their right to choose to terminate the pregnancy. Additionally there is a possibility that the women will continue to be pressured within the frames of the established mandatory waiting period of three days after the performed counseling, i.e. “time to contemplate and re-examine the decision on going through an abortion”.

During the adoption of the law the newest standards for promotion of the reproductive rights of women were completely ignored as well as the local context in which the Law should be implemented. It is especially worrying that the proposed law is not an isolated event and an attempt to demote women’s rights in Macedonia; on the contrary, it is a part of the continuum of events, campaigns and statements by politicians which aim to additionally strengthen the position of women as reproductive machines. Women’s freedom and life choices are restricted to giving birth to children, uncritical acceptance of the stereotypes and the social customs related to women, as well as the oppressive obligations that come along with them.

The Network emphasizes that women can achieve equality with men only if they are free to choose whether they will have children or not. Abortion concerns women only, so every restriction places women in a less favorable position than men, because men will never be in a position to make that choice.

As a network of organizations that reacts to all forms of discrimination, we are concerned about the lack of opportunity to have a debate regarding the Law which is of exceptional value for women’s rights. The attempts to delegitimize the organizations, the opponents of the draft law, defocusing the issue so as to move attention away from women’s rights and toward the rights of LGBT persons is another proof that the draft law and the campaign regarding the adoption of the law represent a continuity of the discriminatory treatment and the violation of the rights of women in Macedonia.

Despite the protests and the request sent to more than 92 NGOs for the withdrawal of the Draft law on termination of pregnancy and adoption of a new law based on scientific findings and medicine based on evidence, with involvement of all relevant actors, the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia adopted the law. The Network for Protection against Discrimination is concerned about the consequences of this law on the lives and health of women. Therefore, we demand that the President of the Republic of Macedonia use his constitutional right and refuse to sign the decree for proclamation of the Law on Termination of Pregnancy and with this action to demonstrate that he is the President of all female and male citizens of the country.

*The Network for Protection against Discrimination aims to develop strategic representation in cases of discrimination by submitting cases before the Commission for Protection against Discrimination and before the domestic and international courts. The development of the domestic practice is encouraged by providing free legal aid in strategic cases of discrimination. The network was established in December 2010 by the following organizations: Foundation Open Society – Macedonia; Association for Health Education and Research (HERA); HOPS- options for a healthy life; the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia and the Association for Emancipation, Solifdarity and Equality of Women in the Republic of Macedonia (ECE); ROMA S.O.S. Prilep; “Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities” Coalition and the Center for Support of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities- PORAKA.