COE Commissioner--Slovak Lawmakers Should Reject Pro-Life Bill
Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The National Council of the Slovak Republic will soon vote on legislation to enact pro-life protections to the country’s abortion law which dates to communist rule in the 1950’s and allows abortion on demand for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.  The Draft Law which Amends and Supplements Act No. 576/2004 Coll. of Laws on Healthcare, Healthcare-related Services contains amendments proposed by a coalition of MPs led by Anna Zaborska, president of the Christian Union (KÚ) and member of the OĽaNO party.

The legislation includes enacting reasonable measures to help to reduce the number of abortions such as extended waiting periods so a woman considering abortion can reflect on the information she has been provided about abortion. It would require that she be given information on the economic, social, and psychological help she can obtain from the state or NGOs. If enacted, it would increase financial assistance to parents of children born with a disability and to all children at birth, not just the first three born to a family as is now the case. It would also prohibit advertising for abortion. 

Anna Záborská said that she is encouraged that the amendment’s chances are good, with the parliament having the highest number of conservative members it ever has. She also said they have the support of Prime Minister Matovič, who she said is “in favor of protecting life at every stage.” The amendments passed a second reading in parliament this summer and are expected to be voted on this week.

The legislation is being opposed by pro-abortion organizations and activists including by the Council of Europe’s (COE) Commissioner on Human Rights Dunja Mijatović who issued a letter to Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic and to the Chairpersons of the Committees on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Health Care and Social Affairs voicing opposition to the proposed pro-life legislation.

According to COE, Ms. Mijatović raises concerns about a draft law “which would introduce restrictions on access to safe and legal abortion services.”

She cites UN treaties—that are silent on abortion but which pro-abortion activists interpret to include access to abortion—writing, “I recall that the proposed measures run counter to World Health Organisation guidelines, as well as specific recommendations to the Slovak Republic by UN bodies, such as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).”

Members of the National Council of the Slovak Republic are urged “to reject any proposed measures that would, in law or practice, lead to retrogression as regards the access of women to their sexual and reproductive health and rights.”

PNCI notes that Dunja Mijatović must have forgotten that lawmakers in the Slovak Republic are simply exercising their right as was recognized in the ICPD Programme of Action agreed to at Cairo that in regards to abortion, “Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process.”