Law reforms

New restrictive abortion law is proposed by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia

A couple of days ago the Government of Macedonia  proposed to Parliament  a new Abortion Law. The new Abortion Law  has a number of articles which are restrictive and  dimish the right of women to have free access to abortion.   


The Government  proposes that the law goes through an urgent procedure, because they  state,   it is not a systemic  law and the issues that are covered are not disputable. Today when the Minister of Health addressed Parliament said that in the law there are   no new aspects introduced and that only  issues from the old law are better regulated. The Minister also pointed out that this law is proposed due to the protection of the women’s health.   The majority of the MPs voted for the new law to go through urgent procedure.  




The new law on abortion introduces new mechanisms that are obstacles for free access to abortion.  In short  below are the restrictive aspects of the new law:    

A woman needs to submit a written application in order the pregnancy to be terminated , 

A woman needs to give a written consent approval the procedure to be done , 

mandatory pre-abortion counseling ,   

the partner (the husband) is to be informed about the procedure, 

mandatory waiting period of three days after the pre-abortion counseling, 

submitting a confirmation from the doctor is necessary  


The whole law  gives significant discretionary power to the Minister of Health, and the  makes the whole system  highly centralized.  


These are only the main restrictive aspects of the new law.   


The law is in parliamentary procedure and the next discussion in the commission is in two days time.  





Hera Office []

Sent: 31 May 2013    


Dear all,


Please find below (or access on our web site ) the NGO letter of support for signing in regards to the latest events in Republic of Macedonia whereas the Parliament wants to adopt a new restrictive abortion law by imposing barriers on women’s access to legal abortion services.


All interested in supporting our effort,please return your details (name of the organization and country), to my email address with the signed letter, no later than Tuesday 4 June 12.00.


I would also appreciate if you can share the email widely in order to get support from as many organization worldwide


Warm regards,


Bojan Jovanovski

Executive Director

H.E.R.A. – Health Education and Research Association

Member Associtaion of IPPF

Debarca 56, 1000 Skopje – Macedonia





31 May 2013


Honorable Members of the Parliament,

Honorable President of The Government of Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Nikola Gruevski 


We the undersigned organizations respectfully submit this letter to express our concern about the proposed Macedonian law on termination of pregnancy.


Firstly, we are alarmed about the decision of the Parliament to discuss the adoption of the Draft Law in urgent procedure without taking efforts to involve all interested parties, including civil society and women organizations, in a transparent and comprehensive consultative process. Bearing in mind that such law infringes on fundamental rights and freedoms of the women and is a complex and extensive law, which we believe should not be adopted in a short procedure.


Secondly, the Draft Law imposes barriers on women’s access to legal abortion services. As such, it conflicts with women’s rights to life, privacy, physical integrity and autonomy, confidentiality, health, and non-discrimination, as protected by the Macedonian Constitution and reflected in Macedonia’s international and regional human rights obligations.


In particularly, the Draft Law put harmful practices to women free choice to terminate a pregnancy up to 10 weeks by introducing restrictive mechanisms such as submission of a written request, requesting written consent by the women, biased mandatory counseling, 3 day “waiting” period after the counseling being performed and mandatory notification of a spouse. All these requirements undermine the free will of women to choose for an abortion as stipulated in the Article 2 of the Draft Law. They do not improve the health and life of women seeking for abortion nor are they in accordance with the international medical standards and international human rights obligations (1)  In contrary imposing these barriers on women’s access to legal abortion services infringes upon women’s decision-making, perpetuates gender stereotypes about women’s ability to make reasonable decisions about reproduction, and thus, discriminate against women. Further on, the proposed requirements reinforces the notion that women are unable to make rational and thoughtful reproductive choices, unnecessarily delays abortion, and may drive some women, especially adolescents, to undergo illegal abortions. The proposed changes infringe on the following international human rights “the right to non-discrimination””the right to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” and “the right to privacy, confidentiality, information and education”.


Therefore, we the undersigned organizations, strongly urge you to withdraw the draft law and ensure there is an extensive debate and consultation process with all key stakeholders, including civil society and women’s organizations, to guarantee the new law respects women’s rights and includes protection for informed and non-coercive decision-making, in compliance with regional and international human rights declarations and medical standards.


We thank you for your consideration of this letter and express our hope that the Republic of Macedonia will continue to ensure that its laws and policies on abortion highly value women’s rights to health and life and respect women’s  dignity and privacy in an environment that is free of stigma and discrimination.


Respectfully yours,



Please return your details (name of the organization and country), to my email address with the signed letter, no later than Tuesday 4 June 12.00.


Summary and comment, Marge Berer, Reproductive Health Matters


This bill manages to allow abortion if a woman’s life is at risk while at the same time protecting the life of the fetus, as required in the Irish Constitution, and at the same time, meeting the conditions laid down by the European Court to legislate clearly on matters arising from previous court cases.


The bill allows abortiononly if there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother”, for example arising from a physical illness. It says that it is “not necessary for medical practitioners to be of the opinion that the risk to the woman’s life is inevitable or immediate, as this approach insufficiently vindicates the pregnant woman’s right to life”. However, it repeats often that there must be a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.


It also says: “In circumstances where the unborn may be potentially viable outside the womb, doctors must make all efforts to sustain its life after delivery. However, that requirement does not go so far as to oblige a medical practitioner to disregard a real and substantial risk to the life of the woman on the basis that it will result in the death of the unborn.”


This appears to take particular account of what happened to Savita Halappanavar, as does the name of the bill.


It creates separate conditions for what to do if the woman is threatening suicide, including requiring at least three medical opinions as to whether to allow an abortion on this ground.


It makes it clear that legal abortion will be very rare. It allows a woman to appeal a decision against her but makes it extremely difficult to do so.


It allows for conscientious objection by individuals but NOT by institutions, which is important, and requires anyone objecting to find another medical professional to refer the woman to.


The bureacracy for medical professional control of the decision to allow an abortion is prodigious and possibly even unworkable in practice if a woman’s life is at risk. It potentially requires many medical professionals to be involved to agree an abortion is legal, far more than in any other country. The numbers required to agree to an abortion in case of a threat of suicide appear to say it is hard to believe any woman would actually commit suicide and so she must be examined by many to prove it. It requires any abortion to take place in an obstetric hospital unless it is a medical emergency, which also has specific conditions attached.


It makes it very clear that there is no restriction on travelling to another country for an abortion where it is legal. It almost invites women to continue doing so rather than go through this process.


Last, and not least, it says that anyone found providing or having an illegal abortion will be subject to punishment of up to 14 years in prison. This is very serious. In my opinion, it is perhaps the worst aspect of this bill from Irish women’s point of view.


I believe this bill is extremely successful at doing exactly what the European Court required, to clarify the law when a pregnant woman’s life is at risk, and not a step further. For all the easy criticism we can make of every word of it, it is a gift to the politicians who must have felt (no matter what their personal views) that their political lives were not worth having this fight. They can now say “We did exactly what we were told to do by the European Court” and no more. It will be impossible to oppose it – in those terms – from any point of view. The person/people who drafted it deserve a gold star for compliance with the political necessity involved.  


Abortions in France are now effectively free , as a law that requires the nation to reimburse the full cost of the procedure took effect April 1, France 24 reports.

The French law greatly expands access to abortions and also offers free and anonymous birth control to teenagers ages 15 to 18. France’s National Assembly passed the expansive abortion bill in October, and the legislation was approved by the Senate shortly thereafter.


The new law seeks to make abortion more easily attainable and offer free contraceptives to cut down on unwanted pregnancies. According to the French Directorate for Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics, 225,000 abortions were performed in France in 2010.


As Radio France Internationale notes, free access to birth control includes first and second generation contraceptive pills, along with contraceptive implants and sterilization. However, the law will not include other contraceptives, such as condoms.  


President Francois Hollande first promised to pass the free abortion measure during his 2012 campaign. At the the time, the presidential candidate also proposed adding specialized centers for the procedure to all hospitals, according to Le Monde.


Before the law was passed, France only offered to cover up to 80 percent of [the cost of] procedures to terminate pregnancies. Contraception costs were also partially refunded with reimbursements set at 65 percent. France provides remunerations for abortions and contraceptives through its social security funds.


Abortion was first legalized in France in 1975.

The Guardian, UK

1 February 2013

Constanze Letsch in Istanbul 


Draft bill prompts fears that new legislation will ‘dramatically limit availability’ to poorer women and those in rural areas


A new law expected to be presented to the Turkish cabinet in the next few days will make it impossible for women in the country to gain access to legal abortions, health professionals and human rights activists have warned.

The government has promised that the new draft bill on reproductive health and child abuse will not touch the legal limit for terminations, which is currently 10 weeks. But while an outright ban seems unlikely, women’s rights activists say the legislation will make abortions impossible in all but a few cases.


Under the draft law, abortions will only be permitted if carried out by obstetricians in hospitals, according to reports in the Turkish media. Currently the procedure is also offered by certified practitioners and local health clinics. The new law also introduces the right for doctors to refuse performing an abortion on the grounds of their conscience, and a mandatory “consideration time” for women requesting a termination.


“This will dramatically limit availability, especially to women in rural areas and women with few economic resources,” said Selin Dagistanli of the campaign group Abortion Is a Right.


“While there is no legal ban, these measures will make abortion de facto unavailable. In many towns there might only be one hospital, and maybe one obstetrician. What if this one doctor then refuses to perform a termination? Many women cannot afford to travel to another city or go to a private hospital,” she said.


Deniz Bayram, a lawyer at the Purple Roof women’s shelter in Istanbul, said: “The name of the draft bill puts child abuse and abortion on one level. It criminalises a medical procedure that needs to be available to women.”


Abortion in Turkey was legalised in 1983 to reduce the high number of women dying from unsafe, self-induced terminations. According to the Turkish Doctors Union Women’s Health Branch, only 2% of pregnancy-related deaths are the result of unsafe abortion methods today, while the number stood at 50% in the 1950s.


“If this new law passes, we will go back to the dark days of backstreet abortions. Women will start dying again,” said Dagistanli.

The prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has repeatedly described abortions as “murder”. Last year, the then health minister Recep Akdağtriggered a wave of protests when he threatened to prohibit terminations.


Erdoğan has urged Turkish couples to have at least three children and even campaigned for population growth in other countries. “Ever since the government started to focus on population growth and pro-natalist policies in 2007, obstacles have increased for women wanting an abortion,” said Dagistanli.


The draft bill is expected to be presented to the cabinet soon and will then be voted on in parliament. Since the ruling AKP holds the majority of seats, the law is expected to pass once it is put up for voting. Women’s groups fear that it might be passed overnight to avoid protests.


Even before the draft has been published, anti-abortion rhetoric from Erdoğan and other government figures has already made it harder for women to obtain terminations, said Bayram. She added that her organisation was receiving an increasing number of phone calls from women who were turned away from hospitals. “Women call us and ask: ‘We were told [in the hospital] that abortion is illegal in Turkey. Is that true?’ These women then often don’t know where to go. We realised that even without a legal abortion ban, it is already largely unavailable in Turkey,” she said.


Women are routinely turned away after eight weeks of gestation, when surgery becomes necessary, Bayram said. “We also hear of cases where women are verbally humiliated for wanting an abortion. The psychological pressure on women has increased dramatically.”


A full draft of the new law has yet to be published and the Turkish health ministry refused to comment.


One doctor at the Turkish Doctors Union Women’s Health Branch, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “This new bill is being drafted behind closed doors, without consulting specialists or women’s rights groups. Health professionals are worried about what it might bring.


“The government’s stance is very clear. They do not want to improve the safety of terminations. Abortions are among the safest medical procedures, but it looks like we might lose the right to it now.”

By Miriam Defensor Santiago, Special for CNN
December 31, 2012
Supporters of the RH Bill celebrate, as lawmakers pass the landmark birth control legislation on December 17.
Supporters of the RH Bill celebrate, as lawmakers pass the landmark birth control legislation on December 17.

Editor’s note: Miriam Defensor Santiago is in her third term as a member of the Philippines Senate and a co-sponsor of the Reproductive Health Bill. She is also the founder of People’s Reform Party. Last year she was selected to be a judge in the International Criminal Court, though she has still to take office.

Manila, Philippines (CNN) — We were like David against Goliath. We fought long and hard, and in the end we prevailed.

After 14 long years in the dustbins of Congress, mainly due to strong opposition from the Catholic Church, the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill was approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives on Monday, 17 December 2012.

Indeed, there is no force more powerful than an idea whose time has come. And the time for a Philippine reproductive health law is now.

Read: Philippines leader signs divisive bill

The Philippines remains one of the poorest countries in the world because, among other things, for a long time, it refused to acknowledge what could easily be seen when one glances out the window: the country desperately needs a reproductive health law.

Not having a reproductive health law is cruelty to the poor. The poor are miserable because, among other reasons, they have so many children. Providing reproductive knowledge and information through government intervention is the humane thing to do. It can help the poor escape the vicious cycle of poverty by giving them options on how to manage their sexual lives, plan their families and control their procreative activities. The phrase “reproductive rights” includes the idea of being able to make reproductive decisions free from discrimination, coercion or violence.

Read: A14-year fight for birth control

Many poor women do not receive information on how to receive reproductive health care. Our underprivileged women have to accept standards lower than what they need, want, or deserve. According to the Department of Health, the mortality rate for Filipino mothers increased to 221 per 100,000 live births in 2011 from 162 per 100,000 live births in 2009. But not only do the women suffer, the children do, too. The children remain undernourished and undereducated because their parents are ignorant about reproductive health care and choices.

In short, the bill merely wants to empower a Filipino woman from the poorest economic class to march to the nearest facility operated by the Department of Health or the local government unit, to demand information on a family planning product or supply of her choice. The bill, at the simplest level, wants to give an indigent married woman the freedom of informed choice concerning her reproductive rights.

If the bill is highly controversial, it is not because it is dangerous to humans or to the planet. It is not subversive of the political order. It is not a fascist diktat of a totalitarian power structure. The reason this bill is emotionally charged is because of the fervent opposition of the Catholic Church in the Philippines and those who wish to be perceived as its champions.

Yet the majority of Catholic countries around the world have passed reproductive health laws, even Italy where the Vatican City is located. Other nations include Spain, Portugal, Paraguay, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina.

Apart from the Catholic Church, all other major religions in the Philippines support the RH Bill. Other major Christian churches have not only officially endorsed the bill but have published learned treatises explaining their position. Support also comes from the Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Iglesia ni Cristo and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches.

The position of these Christian bodies is supported by the most authoritative body of Islamic clerics in the Philippines, the Assembly of Darul-Iftah of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. These constitute the top-ranking ulama, deemed to have the authority to issue opinions on matters facing Islam and Muslims. In 2003, they issued a fatwah or religious ruling called “Call to Greatness.” It gives Muslim couples a free choice on whether to practice family planning.

The Filipino people, regardless of religion, are in favor of RH. In June 2011, the Social Weather Stations, a survey group, reported that 73% of Filipinos want information from the government on all legal methods of family planning, while 82% say family planning method is a personal choice of couples and no one should interfere with it. An October 2012 survey among young people aged 15 to 19 years old in Manila shows that 83% agree that there should be a law in the Philippines on reproductive health and family planning.

This is the will of the Filipino people; it is the democratic expression of what the public wants from government. The anti-RH groups are mute on this ineluctable fact.

Reproductive health care is a human right. The people are entitled to demand it from their government and the government is obligated to provide it to its constituents.


PERSPECTIVES: ‘It was worth the sacrifice’: Kenya’s Dr. John Nyamu on why he spent a year in prison


From: Ipas, Medical Abortion Matters (November 2012)


Until 2011, abortion was illegal in Kenya except to save a woman’s life. For years the climate of fear and secrecy surrounding abortion hurt women, their families, and health-care providers. Unsafe abortion in Kenya still causes an estimated 30 percent of maternal deaths and countless other injuries.


Now, a newly ratified Kenyan constitution allows for legal abortion on much broader terms-and, when the new law is fully implemented, it stands to dramatically increase women’s ability to exercise their reproductive rights.


Ipas’s senior clinical advisor Mary Fjerstad recently sat down with Kenya’s much-respected Dr. John Nyamu to discuss the long and difficult path he and so many other Kenyans have traveled to get where they are today.


Mary Fjerstad: Doctor Nyamu, would you tell me what the situation was like in Kenya when abortion was considered a criminal act? [Editor’s note: Before constitutional reform, abortion in Kenya was highly restricted with few legal indications for having the procedure.]


Dr. John Nyamu: Most health-care workers were afraid of talking about it openly. Abortion was never performed in government hospitals unless the life of the woman was in real danger. Even then it was very bureaucratic as one doctor could only do the procedure with permission in writing from two other doctors; one doctor had to be a psychiatrist and the other doctor had to be a senior doctor in the hospital. Abortions were performed by D&C or induction. In reality, these legal abortions were provided almost exclusively at Kenyatta National Hospital, provincial hospitals and very rarely in district hospitals. (Kenyatta National Hospital is the major teaching hospital in Nairobi).


here were wards in hospitals where women who had unsafe abortions were treated for uterine and bowel damage due to perforations and developed sepsis, brain damage and many women died.


here was tremendous secrecy about abortion, women were aborting late. The penalty for a doctor who performed an [illegal] abortion was 14 years [in prison]; pharmacists could be imprisoned for three years for giving abortifacient medicines and women themselves could be imprisoned for seven years for having an abortion.


Some private clinics were providing safe abortion. They were harassed regularly by local police, usually by extortion. They were used virtually as the personal ATMs of the police [ATM = Automatic Teller Machine, a banking machine from which you can withdraw cash using a bank card]. A policeman would say, “I’m short of cash, give me your cash or I’ll arrest you.” The entire staff, including nurses, doctors and women seeking abortion could be arrested. Due to the fear, the providers kept servicing [the police] to buy their freedom.


Your case was profiled by The Center for Reproductive Rights’ paper in 2010, “In Harm’s Way: the Impact of Keny’s Restrictive Abortion Law.” Can you briefly describe what happened to you that led to this paper?


In 2004, [data were shared] which showed worrying trends and consequences of unsafe abortion in Kenya. This was followed by a major crackdown on clinics, hunts for women who had abortions, some clinics were closed and I was targeted. There were 15 fetuses found along a major road with some documents from a hospital I had worked at previously but had since closed. My clinic was raided and two nurses and I were arrested. This appeared to have been very well organized with all the media including print, radio and TV present to report on the matter.  When we were asked to pay bribes, we refused-because we knew the fetuses were not from our clinic and the documents were planted on the road-and we were locked up. [Editor’s note: subsequent pathology examinations found that the fetuses were still-born fetuses, not aborted fetuses.]


The three of us were ultimately charged with two counts of murder, rather than an abortion-specific offense. Since murder is a non-bailable offense in Kenya, we had to stay in remand prison pending our trial. We all spent a year in prison. One of the nurses was six months pregnant and delivered while she was in prison. One of the nurses still works for me and the other got her green card and has since immigrated to the United States.


A senior doctor, a gynaecologist, was instructed by the Director of Medical Services of the Ministry of Health to accompany the police and inspect the two clinics operated by Reproductive Health Services. The purpose of the inspection was to verify if there was any abortifacient equipment. He gave witness in court that the two facilities had legal equipment normally found in a gynecologist’s clinic and he would be surprised if he did not find it as he uses the same equipment for his work. The police forensic department was asked to look for DNA on the equipment from the clinic. DNA was taken from any instruments or equipment with blood on them-even the couches and lab coats were confiscated. The results from the government chemist found that there was no DNA linkage between the fetuses found on the road and any blood specimens from the clinic. The doctor also found that the clinic was duly registered and all staff had proper and up-to-date licenses.


The case was eventually ruled as improper [Editor’s note: They were acquitted of all charges]. With that ruling, the attorney general decided not to pursue prosecution due to lack of evidence.


Was it horrible being in prison for a year?


Yes, it was horrible, but it was worth the sacrifice. I was held at the Kamiti Maximum Prison, which is where the hard-core criminals are remanded. I was confined in a small cell for a whole year. I really felt persecuted, but as I said, it was worth the sacrifice.


Why do you say it was worth the sacrifice?


My arrest and imprisonment was in the media virtually every day. The publicity was an opening for people to realize the magnitude and consequences of unsafe abortion in Kenya; women were dying in great numbers. Before that, abortion was never spoken of in public. There are only about 250 OB/GYNs in Kenya; some districts have none. The media sensation from this case galvanized the Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society (KOGS), the National Nurses Association of Kenya, the Federation of Women Lawyers, human rights advocates, women’s rights organizations and many others to form an alliance of reproductive health rights advocates.


This alliance exists to date and is known as the Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance (RHRA). The RHRA is an advocacy platform to agitate for the reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity due to unsafe abortion. This alliance also offers technical support to abortion service providers through Reproductive Health Network (RHN). The public became aware of abortion and the toll of unsafe abortion. The window was open to the public to realize the terrible toll of unsafe abortion in Kenya.


This debate extended to the drafting of a new Constitution in 2010. The Constitution says that “every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care.” My arrest, imprisonment and [the resulting] publicity generated a public awareness that led to a transformation in the understanding that safe abortion is essential to preventing maternal morbidity and mortality.


Is there any further action in your own case?


Yes, I have since sued the government for malicious prosecution and subsequent confinement for one year in remand prison. The case has been in court for the last six years without yet being assigned a hearing.


What does the expansive definition of health in the new constitution mean in terms of when an abortion is considered legal?


Abortion is legal if the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman; as an emergency treatment; or when it endangers health, with health defined broadly: physical, social and mental. If in the opinion of a trained health professional an abortion is provided in good faith (in other words, where the pregnancy jeopardizes the woman’s physical, social or mental health), it is legal. [Editor’s note:Under the new law, a woman can make her abortion decision with one health-care provider; others are not required to be involved or sign off on the decision.]


What categories of health-care providers can perform legal abortion?


Physicians, nurses, midwives and clinical officers [who have completed training to perform abortion services] can now perform legal abortions.


What are the next steps in transforming the policies to establish safe, legal abortion in Kenya?


Ipas and other organizations took the lead in writing a document called, “Standards and guidelines for reducing morbidity and mortality from unsafe abortion.” The title is taken from a similar document from Zimbabwe and is brilliant. Kenya, like other countries, wants to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of 75-percent reduction in maternal mortality; this can’t be achieved if safe abortion isn’t available.


The other milestone on transformation is the revision of codes of ethics and scope of practice for all the professional associations in Kenya. These have been done and are waiting to be launched.


This transformation to legal abortion access in Kenya is a testament to very brave, inspired people dedicated to the common good who have sacrificed a lot. How have all the changes we’ve discussed affected providers of safe abortion and women?


Providers are now aware of the enhanced protections that have been offered by the constitution. This in turn has increased access to safe abortion services and thereby enabled women to realize their reproductive health rights. In addition, incidences of provider harassment are now on the decrease.

Thursday, 22 november, the Parliament of Luxemburg has voted 39 : 21 to change its abortion law of 1978. Women now have the right, within the first 12 weeks, to decide for themselves whether or not to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. After 12 weeks, abortion is legal for medical reasons.
Women have to have “social” counselling and 3 days of “cooling off period” before the intervention.
Minors can abort without parental knowledge, if they are accompagnied by an adult of their confidence.
Left parties and feminists deplore the compulsory counselling which had to be conceded in order to obtain the parliamentary majority. But all in all, the new law is a great step forward: women decide!
(There is no 2nd Chamber in Luxemburg and the Grand Duke has lost his power to veto laws 3 years ago. So the new law is definitively adopted. Luxemburg has 500’000 inhabitants and is member of the European Union.)

By Selcan Hacaoglu on November 06, 2012

Four Turkish women went on trial today for staging an unauthorized protest outside the office of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan against government plans to curb abortion, the Halkevleri activist group said.

The protesters face a maximum three years in prison if convicted by the court for the protest in Istanbul, said Sevinc Hocaogullari, an official at the group. More than 80 of its members are on trial for similar protests in the capital Ankara and the western city of Eskisehir, she said.

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in June after Erdogan called abortion “murder.” Abortion is legal in predominantly Muslim Turkey until a maximum 10 weeks from conception, and Erdogan’s government said it was considering a proposal to ban the operation after four weeks except in emergencies. Parliament in July barred Caesarean sections unless women can prove there is a medical condition preventing them from giving birth naturally.

“It is our body, our choice, not the prime minister’s, the family’s or the husband’s,” Hocaogullari said, accusing the ruling Justice and Development Party of attempting to ban abortion.

Health Minister Recep Akdag drew an angry response from women’s groups in June when he said the government could even take care of the babies of rape victims.

‘Cheap Labor’

Erdogan has repeatedly said that Turkish families should have at least three children, and has argued that a large population will enable Turkey to provide a workforce for an ageing Europe if it’s granted European Union membership. Turkey’s current population is about 75 million, and its birth rate fell from 1.5 percent in 2010 to 1.3 percent in 2011, according to the official statistics agency.

“The prime minister wants cheap labor to compete with China,” said Hocaogullari.

Erdogan may also be concerned to balance the country’s ethnic demographics. Mothers in the largely Kurdish southeast of Turkey have an average of 3.4 children, higher than the national average of 2. The government has been fighting autonomy-seeking Kurdish militants for decades in a war that has killed nearly 40,000 people.

To contact the reporter on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at

SOLIDARITY REQUEST: República Dominicana


The vote on the new Penal Code is today (Wednesday 24 October)



Dominican Republic: Parliament must decriminalize abortion


“The criminalization of abortion in all circumstances, as maintained in the new legislation,violates women’s rights to life, health and not to suffer torture or ill treatment anddiscrimination and it goes against international human rights commitments made by theDominican Republic.” (Amnesty International)




Abel Martínez Duran, Presidente, Camara Diputados

and these members of the Congress:


Julio César Valentín (senador Santiago)

José Rafael Vargas (senador Espaillat)

Víctor Sánchez (diputado Azua)

Víctor Gómez Casanova (diputado DN)

Guadalupe Valdez (diputada nacional)

Mario Hidalgo (diputado La Vega) o

Magda Rodríguez (diputada Santiago) Elpidio Báez (diputado DN)

Cristian Paredes (diputado Sánchez Ramírez)

Minou Tavarez (diputada Santo Domingo de Guzmán)

Otros correos importantes:
Other important e-mail addresses:

Pedro Angel Martínez (Encargado de Prensa del Senado)

Mayra Ruiz de Astwood (Coordinadora Comisiones Permanentes del Senado) o

Luis Quezada (Asesor de Formulación de Proyectos del Senado)

Twitter addresses of the members of the Justice Commission:

Los twitter de los diputados de la Comisión de Justicia son los siguientes:


Otros twitter of members of congress and other important actors

Other twitter (Diputadxs, Senadorxs, otrxs actorxs):




@VoceroPLD (Vocero de los diputadosPLD)


Indignad@s: NO a ese código penal!


Imminent Penal Code restrictions re abortion and violence against women threatened




Dear Sisters:
I am writing to you from the Dominican Republic. The situation here is really worrying at this point. Last week the Congress gave the first approval to the new Penal Code, that will maintain abortion illegal under all circumstances and even worsening the situation for women compared to the past, among other things violating women’s rights regarding violence against women (VAW), (several improvements  in the Law on VAW in 1997 have been swept away…).


Next Wednesday the Congress will read the Penal Code Proposal again, with the risk that it could be finally approved. Locally, we are a big movement protesting, but who knows if it would be enough?!


We would really appreciate signs of protest reaching the Dominican Congress from our sisters worldwide. I will send you the e-mail addresses as soon as I obtain them since locally we are not using email this way. Meanwhile please find below the declaration issued by the protest movement to the press this morning, with details about the content of the new Penal Code being discussed in the Congress. I preferred not to wait till the last minute to alert you.All the best, Elga Salvador






El Foro Feminista y las organizaciones de mujeres aquí presentes declaramos como inaceptables, por inconstitucionales y desconocedoras de derechos humanos, disposiciones fundamentales contenidas en el Proyecto de Código Penal Dominicano aprobado en primera lectura el martes 16 de octubre por la Cámara de Diputados.


El texto aprobado contiene artículos que representan retroceso y negación de derechos fundamentales de las mujeres, derechos que ya forman parte de nuestro ordenamiento jurídico, como los consignados en la Ley 24-97 que introdujo modificaciones al Código Penal vigente. Ningún Estado que se precie de Democrático de Derecho, comprometido con la progresividad de los derechos humanos, puede permitirse echar para atrás en el reconocimiento y protección de esos derechos.


Eliminación de la sanción a la violencia de género contra las mujeres

En el texto de Código Penal en discusión se identifican importantes retrocesos respecto a la Ley 24-97 como la eliminación de la sanción a la violencia de género contra las mujeres. El resultado de esa mutilación es la restricción de ese tipo de violencia a la que se produce entre miembros de una familia, concepto que desconoce totalmente la realidad de violencia que enfrentan diariamente las mujeres en este país. Las alarmantes cifras de más de 62,374 denuncias de violencia de género e intrafamiliar reportadas en el año 2011 por la PGR, y las 5,657 denuncias por delitos sexuales contra mujeres, dan cuenta de esta realidad, todavía oculta y sub-registrada.


Sólo considera grave la violencia intrafamiliar cuando se cause la muerte de la víctima, una incapacidad permanente o por más de 90 días.  Constituye igualmente retrocesos con relación a la 24-97 la disposición que condiciona a “daños corporales de consideración” lascircunstancias agravantes de la violencia doméstica o intrafamiliar.  Sólo se considera agravante cuando causa la muerte a la víctima, una incapacidad permanente o por más de 90 días.  En contraste, en la 24-97 las agravantes dependen de las circunstancias en que se comete el hecho, es decir, en presencia de niños/as, portando armas, coartando la libertad de la mujer, entre otras condiciones referidas a los hechos cometidos por el agresor y no a los daños ocasionados y verificables sólo en el cuerpo de la víctima.


Reduce la pena al incesto

El  incesto en el texto de nuevo Código no establece la máxima pena para esta infracción, desconociendo con ello los graves daños y secuelas que deja en la vida de un niño o niña este tipo de abuso sexual, al tiempo que excluye de la tipificación del incesto la filiación adoptiva como posible vínculo entre la víctima y el autor/a del hecho.


Reduce la pena al acoso sexual

El acoso sexual se sanciona en este proyecto de Código Penal con un día a un año de prisión menor, y contrario a lo que sería necesario frente a las características y dimensión del problema en la sociedad dominicana, siguen las limitaciones para las mujeres con relación a la falta de compensación frente a la pérdida de trabajo y otras repercusiones del acoso sexual.

Encubre una violación sexual a una menor de edad


Dentro de las infracciones de la sección “puesta en peligro de los menores de edad”, se ubica el atentado sexual contra una persona menor de edad quien ha sido sustraída de la casa parental, castigándose ese hecho con una pena de dos a tres años de prisión menor. Esa sanción es diez veces más baja que la establecida para la violación de un/a menor de edad y la misma que se estipula para quien comete un robo simple.


El Femicidio y la penalización de aborto en todas las circunstancias:

Aunque incorpora la figura del femicidio, el nuevo proyecto de Código Penal lo restringe a la relación de pareja, con lo cual excluye  todos los asesinatos de mujeres que se producen por su condición de mujer fuera de ese vínculo. Datos de la PGR informan 1,382 casos de femicidios desde el año 2005 a noviembre del 2011. De este total, 660 fueron asesinatos de mujeres cometidos por hombres con quien la víctima no tuvo o tenía una relación de pareja.


Para culminar con el desapego del referido proyecto a las demandas de las organizaciones de mujeres, se mantiene la retrógrada criminalización del aborto, desatendiendo reclamos sostenidos y fundamentados de las mujeres por la eliminación de esas penas, en reconocimiento de una realidad de miles de dominicanas de escasos recursos que cada año arriesgan su salud y sus vidas con abortos clandestinos e inseguros. La penalización del aborto en todas las condiciones y etapas de la gestación constituye una violación a los derechos humanos de las mujeres: su derecho a la vida, a la salud, a la integridad personal, a la dignidad, a la libertad de conciencia y de cultos, derecho al libre desarrollo de la personalidad, entre otros.


Todas estas omisiones, vacíos y distorsiones implican una violación a los convenios internacionales sobre derechos humanos de las mujeres ratificados por el Estado dominicano, así como a la misma Constitución de la República que en su Artículo 42 inciso 2) establece lo siguiente: “Se condena la violencia intrafamiliar y de género en cualquiera de sus formas. El Estado garantizará mediante ley la adopción de medidas necesarias para prevenir, sancionar y erradicar la violencia contra la mujer”. Este mandato constitucional está siendo claramente transgredido por el proyecto de Código Penal.


Frente a todo lo anterior, demandamos de la Cámara de Diputados la protección de los derechos de las mujeres y de la niñez sancionando su violación en la ley penal, en cumplimiento del deber del Estado de garantizar la protección de los derechos de todas las personas, incluyendo a las mujeres quienes representan la mitad de la población dominicana.

Santo Domingo, 22 de octubre, 2012


Colectiva Mujer y Salud!/CiudadaniaAM

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