On Tuesday May 28th the Lithuanian Parliament secured the abortion ban bill, proposed by the Electoral Action of Poles, to go to the parliamentary Committees on Human Rights, Health Affairs and Legal Affairs for further considerations. 46 MPs voted in favour, 19 were against and 25 abstained. It will be sent back to the Seimas during the fall session.
The bill was supported by 20 representatives of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, eight members of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania political group, eight representatives of the Labour Party and individual members of other political groups. Only members of the Liberal Movement political groups unanimously voted against the bill.
Under the proposed bill abortion would be possible only if it posed a threat to life or health of the woman or was the result of criminal acts. In such cases, abortion would be performed only by 12th week . Currently, abortions are allowed by the 12th week with no additional conditions. Around 10 000 abortions are performed in Lithuania every year.
This proposed anti-abortion bill has aroused a lot of controversy in the country. One month ago the Lithuanian Social Democratic Women’s Alliance appealed to members of the Seimas to dismiss the bill proposed by the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania. “Banning abortion is an act of violation of the European Convention of Human Rights which Lithuania has signed” as was written in their statement. The Alliance pointed to Poland as a negative example of introducing such law: “Polish women risk their life and health by terminating their pregnancies abroad”. They also underlined that abortion is not treated as a method of family planning and women should have the right to make their own decision in regards to pregnancy.
If Lithuania introduces the law which will dramatically limit women’s right to choose and access abortion it will be the fourth country in the EU, after Poland, Ireland and Malta to have banned abortion. The proposed bill is almost a copy of the existing Polish law which bans abortions except in case of rape, incest, fetal malformation or a threat to the woman’s health or life.
The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania had already submitted an anti-abortion proposal in the Seimas in year 2005, it was even backed by it in 2007 until eventually dismissed.