29 Jan 2009

Seven Macedonian NGOs have accused the centre right VMRO DPMNE-led government of endangering the basic human rights of women by plotting to enforce tighter rules for abortion in the country.

Local media previously cited unnamed government sources as saying that a more restrictive law that should make very hard for women to have abortions is already in the pipeline. The law was aimed at increasing the birth rate, the source said.

The NGOs said they were forming a united front against the government’s intentions and said they would protest on the streets if necessary.

They urged the government to stop its anti-abortion media campaign and to abandon plans for the new law. They said the government was employing “inquisition methods”.
The Ministry of Health has officially denied that they are involved in preparing a new law. But according to local daily Utrinski Vesnik the tender for the campaign worth nearly half million euros was released two days before New Year’s eve on December 29 in an attempt to avoid media attention. The government campaign is aimed at raising support for the planned changes.
The coordinator of the NGO alliance, Slavco Dimitrov argues that the whole campaign will not only go against the secular character of the state by portraying abortion as a “brutal interruption of the pregnancy that is otherwise a blessing” but will also hinder basic human and reproductive rights of women.
Dimitrov said that experience in other countries shows that if abortion is banned or made hard to obtain, women would just have unlicensed abortions in questionable conditions, thus endangering their lives.
Macedonia’s current law allow abortion in five cases: if a woman’s life, physical or mental health is endangered, if the child is found to be suffering abnormalities, or it was conceived by rape.These provisions are similar to those in force across most of the European Union.
(Reporting by Sinisa-Jakov Marusic)