Today HERA and the Macedonian Association of the Gynecologists and Obstetricians held a press conference in order to oppose the Government media campaign (launched 10 days ago) with misleading and intimidating information on abortion.


In the Government campaign titled as “Chose life – You have a right to chose”, including a video spot about the procedure of the termination of pregnancy, infertility, sepsis, perforations of the uterus, complications from the anesthesia and severe mental problems are suggested as consequences of abortion.


Both associations called for Government to stop and withdrawn the campaign for its wrong suggestive information.

Both associations said that:

1.       In the last couple of years there is either no death case  or serious complications of an abortion procedure registered. The consequences, as suggested in the video spot, can be found with any medical intervention and it is not evidence-based either exclusive only for an abortion procedure

2.        The government campaign is completely contradicting with the strategic interventions in the framework of the current national polices for reducing the abortion rate in the country and for improving SRHR (National Strategy of Safe Motherhood and the National Strategy for adolescents health and development)

3.       The campaign does not encourage, on the contrary, it denys the right of choice for the women to freely decide about her life and parenthood planning. It reinforces gender stereotypes at the same time

4.       The campaign is focused to change the public opinion and awareness by informing them that abortion is a risky medical intervention and the main reason for decreased birth rate in the country. It can only be presumed that this camping has the purpose to adopt a new and restricted Abortion Law which will not consider the right of women to freely decide to continue or terminate her pregnancy.

Therefore HERA and the Macedonian Association of the Gynecologists and Obstetricians recommend:

1.       Instead of a media campaign that will teach women about consequences of abortion the government should initiate a campaign on raising public awareness about oral contraception as effective and relevant means for reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies.

2.       The right of the woman to freely decide on her parenthood planning, which is in a line with the Macedonian Constitutional rights and International ratified treaties, to be guaranteed in case the Abortion Law to be amended

3.       To improve the infrastructure and the conditions of safe motherhood services

4.       To include the oral contraception in the patients’ health insurance package

5.       To introduce and implement the newly presented protocols for safe abortion by MoH, including registration of the medical abortion drugs, to further improve the safety and the quality of the safe abortion services

6.       To introduce mechanisms for improved social and economical life of future parents (better education, more possibilities for employment and providing social benefits for future parents)

7.       Introducing sexuality education in schools as separate discipline.


The government of Ecuador blocked the phone line of the Ecuadorian hotline, where women can get help to get a safe abortion despite its illegality.

But the women already have re-established a new phone number:


Formato Carta de Apoyo Salud Mujeres –

Nos declaramos en rebeldía, seguiremos entregando información con nuestro nuevo número 098301317

Salud Mujeres es una línea gratuita que brinda información a las mujeres sobre cómo pueden realizarse un aborto de forma segura mediante el uso de medicamentos. También informamos acerca de anticoncepción, incluyendo la de emergencia, y sexualidad en general. Nuestra acción se enmarca en la legislación del país, concretamente en el artículo 18 de la Constitución vigente, por lo cual es constitucional y legal.

Trabajamos en defensa de los derechos de las mujeres: a tener acceso a la información, a la salud, a tomar decisiones informadas sobre su vida sexual y reproductiva, a no sufrir discriminación por su sexo, a tener acceso a los avances de la ciencia y la tecnología, a la libertad de expresión, a la libertad de conciencia, a la libertad religiosa, a la privacidad, a no ser sometidas a trato cruel, inhumano y degradante, a decidir el número de hijos e

hijas que quiere tener y el intervalo entre sus nacimientos, a decidir si quiere ser madre o no y, a la vida; derechos todos respaldados en nuestra constitución y en las múltiples convenciones de derechos humanos de las que nuestro país es signatario.

Aclaramos también que nosotras no aconsejamos, no obligamos, ni inducimos a ninguna mujer a tomar ninguna decisión, pues uno de nuestros principios fundamentales es el reconocimiento a la capacidad e inteligencia que tenemos todas mujeres para tomar decisiones sobre nuestras vidas y nuestra reproducción. Nuestro trabajo se encuentra comprometido con todas las mujeres que requieran la información que se da a través de nuestra línea, es un trabajo voluntario y desinteresado de activistas feministas que luchamos en

contra del sistema patriarcal-capitalista-heterosexista de nuestro país y el mundo. Trabajamos para destruir las limitaciones a las decisiones de las mujeres y para disminuir las muertes de ellas por abortos inseguros.

El día de ayer, Domingo 12 de septiembre de 2010, el número telefónico de Salud Mujeres, 099004545, fue bloqueado por Movistar, por una orden enviada desde la Fiscalía General del Estado Ecuatoriano.

Frente a esta acción, y en uso de nuestros derechos fundamentales

constitucionalmente reconocidos, nos declaramos en resistencia y seguiremos entregando información: el nuevo número de Salud Mujeres es 098301317.

Nos declaramos en desacuerdo con las normas penales que discriminan a las mujeres y violan la constitución, con aquellas que nos obligan a asumir maternidades que no queremos, y con las que intentan callarnos para seguir manteniendo el aborto y la sexualidad de las mujeres en el silencio y el tabú.

Es por esta razón que pedimos apoyo de la gente, organizaciones y colectivos que conocen nuestro trabajo y que también están en desacuerdo con las leyes que criminalizan a las mujeres, necesitamos apoyo para difundir nuestro nuevo número y para evitar que estas acciones de persecución continúen. Envíennos su apoyo o adhiéranse al formato adjunto, llenándolo y enviándolo a

Agradecemos su colaboración.

Salud Mujeres


The charges brought against a young couple from Queensland for taking the RU486 pill have dangerous ramifications for all Australian women, writes Samantha Campbell.

The Women’s Abortion Action Campaign (WAAC) is continuing its campaign of defence and support for the young Cairns couple who go to trial on 12 October 2010, charged under archaic abortion laws that still exist under the Queensland criminal code.

In 2009 the woman had a medical abortion at home using RU486 and misoprostol, drugs that were obtained from her partner’s relatives in the Ukraine along with doctor’s instructions for their use.

She faces seven years in prison and he faces three.

Whilst access to RU486 is restricted, due to strict control by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, it remains a legal drug in Australia for the purpose of medical abortion.

RU486 remains restricted because, as yet, no pharmaceutical company has applied to import and distribute it within Australia.

This leaves individual doctors the time consuming responsibility of having to apply to the TGA directly to be able to obtain and prescribe the drug for their patients.

These problematic circumstances ensure limited access to medical abortion with the use of RU486 for Australian women. RU486 is both legal in Australia and safe to use – with complications akin to that of a spontaneous miscarriage – and is available in about 35 other countries including the United States and France where it accounts for roughly one-third of abortions.

RU486 is a valid and safe option for abortion that should be widely available to Australian women in an effort to promote safe and affordable options for women seeking an abortion.

Abortion in Australia is legal, established by common law rulings in Queensland in 1986 and in NSW in 1971 that gave provisions for “lawful” abortions in cases where the woman’s physical or mental health are at risk from continuation of the pregnancy.

Provisions for abortion have also been made to include financial and social grounds for abortion at the discretion of individual doctors. Abortion is subsidised by a Medicare rebate and in that respect is recognised as a medical procedure.

The issue then ignites when abortion is treated with distinct difference from any other medical procedure under the law. Abortion is a medical procedure and should not be categorised differently in any legislation. All abortion laws should be repealed.

While the trial for the Cairns couple essentially remains a Queensland issue, the ramifications of charges brought under these archaic laws threaten all Australian women.

Abortion also remains within the NSW criminal code and while this is so, NSW women are at risk of similar prosecution and treatment to that received by the Cairns couple.

The dangerous contradiction between the law and state criminal codes in Australia presents a misleading reality for Australian women who believe they have complete legal access to abortion.

The legality of abortion in Australia is haunted by the fallacy of freedom of choice for women’s bodies by outdated sections of state criminal codes that remain ignorant to the needs and demands of Australian women.

The Women’s Abortion Action Campaign (WAAC NSW), alongside the Pro-Choice Action Collective (PCAC QLD) and Radical Women (VIC), are calling for all charges against the Cairns couple to be dropped.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Queensland state ministers have been repeatedly called upon to action the release of the couple from these charges.

In response, Anna Bligh and the Queensland state government claim that the case relates to the illegal method in which the abortion drugs were obtained.

Why then have the couple been charged under the sections of the criminal code specific to abortion?

The Queensland government has attempted to distract the facts of the case and the issue at the heart of these charges with claims of illegal importation, despite the clear charge of the couple under state abortion laws, not drug importation laws.

The Queensland government also maintained that the charges against the couple are valid despite the absence of proof that the woman was pregnant or that the drugs were used to cause a miscarriage; all they required was an ‘intent’ to procure a miscarriage in order for the couple to be charged under the state criminal code.

It is essential to acknowledge the absurdity of these charges and to rise together as a nation in solidarity with the mistreated couple.

This case is not isolated to Queensland as the Bligh government may intend to direct it, rather it raises a national issue for the protection of abortion rights in Australia and a woman’s right to choose.

Call to action: National rallies on Saturday 9 October 2010

The trial date for the Cairns case has been set to begin on 12 October 2010 and WAAC in NSW, alongside PCAC in Queensland and Radical Women in Victoria, are co-ordinating a National Day of Action on Saturday 9 October 2010 in solidarity with the Cairns couple.

We are calling for the Queensland government to drop all charges against the couple and repeal all abortion laws.

This national day of protest will unite supporters of abortion rights and draw attention to the archaic laws that in the 21st century still stipulate abortion as a crime. Never again should any woman in Australia be subject to the trauma faced by the Cairns couple for exercising every woman’s right to choose.

It is important for Australian women to recognise the unjust treatment of the Cairns couple and unite in making our voices heard.

The government needs to hear, loud and clear, that we do not accept the prejudiced treatment of abortion in current legislation, we do not accept any place for law in the decisions we as women make over our own bodies, we do not accept any mockery of the campaigning of our foremothers for abortion rights and we cannot allow the prosecution of the Cairns couple to take place and threaten our freedom of choice.

Visit the WAAC website for details of times and places for the national rallies on 9 October 2010.

Samantha Campbell is a student at Macquarie University studying a BA in Gender Studies. She has been involved in WAAC for seven months, contributing to efforts that support abortion rights.

An abortion hotline which has been set up in Pakistan is facing violent opposition. Islamic groups and political parties have condemned the hotline, which was launched yesterday, as “anti-Islamic” and “colonial”, even though it will save the lives of thousands of women who die each year in backstreet abortion clinics. They have warned the organisers that they are at risk of reprisals.

The hotline, set up by a collection of women’s groups in Pakistan and the Dutch pro-choice group Women on Waves, advises women how to use a drug to induce miscarriage safely and aims to reduce the estimated 890,000 unsafe illegal abortions performed in Pakistan every year.

“There will be very strong opposition,” said Ahsan Iqbal, of the Pakistan Muslim League. “This could create misuse. It cannot be done as free choice under our law and our religion.”

Access to abortion in Pakistan is very limited. Forbidden under Islamic law unless the mother’s life is in danger, terminating a pregnancy carries a massive social stigma in the country, which is 97 per cent Muslim. As a result, a flourishing trade in backstreet abortion clinics has developed.

Figures from the Population Council of Pakistan show that the country has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world, with 320 women dying for every 100,000 live births – compared to 13 per 100,000 in the UK. The Guttmacher Institute, which researches sexual and reproductive health, estimates that as many as one in six deaths are a result of illegal abortions.

“We want to save women’s lives,” said Gulalai Ismail, founder of the Pakistani women’s group Aware Girls, which is helping to set up the hotline. “We are empowering women, and trying to give them information to help them take control of their bodies. Any groups which try to help women will have problems with extremist and fundamentalist groups. Ninety-nine per cent of clerics will oppose this.”

As well as the hotline, trained Pakistani staff will offer abortion information in communities in rural Pakistan, particularly in the tribal areas of the North-West Frontier Province, where opposition is expected to be fiercest.

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, warned the organisers that they risked reprisals. “To go against the majority like this might be seen sympathetically in the West, but it will be counterproductive and will create huge problems. At best, they are misguided, at worst they are trying to provoke,” he said. “It is part of the colonial idea that the West’s way is the best, and that is not the case.”

Women on Waves, created in 1999 by the Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts, operates a controversial “abortion boat”, which offers free terminations in international waters around countries where abortion is illegal or difficult to obtain. In 2004, the ship was prevented from entering Portuguese waters after the government blocked its way with a warship; on another occasion, a flotilla of anti-abortion campaigners surrounded the vessel when it docked in the Spanish port of Valencia, and hundreds of protesters lined the streets. However, there are no plans for it to moor off the coast of Pakistan.

“While the debate continues on whether terminating a pregnancy is allowed or not, and under what conditions, thousands of women are dying as a result of unsafe backstreet abortions,” said Shaista Gohir, executive director of Muslim Women’s Network. “The Pakistani government is failing in its duty to provide adequate family planning services,” she said.

A 2002 survey found that most women seeking abortions were married, aged in their thirties and already had four children. Globally, an estimated 20 million women have illegal abortions every year, around 68,000 of whom die as a result.

The impending trial of a young Queensland woman for allegedly illegally aborting her pregnancy has no precedent in Australia.

The finding by prominent obstetrician and abortion law reform campaigner Caroline de Costa reinforces how intensely the prosecution of Tegan Leach and her partner, Sergie Brennan, both of Cairns, will be watched.

The case is due to return to the District Court next month, with Ms Leach charged with attempting to procure an abortion under a 111-year-old provision of the Queensland criminal code, carrying a maximum of seven years’ jail. Mr Brennan is charged with supplying drugs to procure an abortion.

Both have been committed to stand trial.

“Over the past five years, I have been researching the history of abortion in Australia, particularly in Queensland, through medical, legal and police records,” Professor de Costa writes in a new book, Never, Ever, Again.

“My research has not produced a single previous case of a woman being charged with procuring her own abortion since the 1899 (criminal) code was first promulgated (in Queensland).

“What’s more, I have found no evidence that any woman anywhere in Australia has ever been so charged.” Ms Leach is alleged to have terminated her pregnancy in December 2008 with RU486, the abortion drug that could not be brought into the country legally until 2006.

Professor de Costa played an important role in having the ban overturned by federal parliament, and ran the first service using RU486 in Cairns. However, she was not aware of, nor involved in, the couple’s alleged use of an illegally imported batch of the drug.


In a policy welcomed by anti-abortion campaigners but dismissed by critics as propaganda, women in northern Italy who cannot afford to have their babies are to be offered €4,500 not to have an abortion.

Roberto Formigoni, the centre-right governor of the Lombardy region, said that the offer was to fulfil his pledge in regional elections in March that no woman should have to have an abortion because of economic difficulties.

During the regional poll the ruling centre-right coalition, led by Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister, made a pitch for the Catholic vote by supporting Vatican policies on issues such as abortion and birth control.

Mr Formigoni said that, despite cuts in the budget, $5 million had been set aside to allow women in economic difficulty to be given €250 a month for 18 months.

If a woman told doctors she wanted an abortion for economic reasons she would be referred to a new centre for helping life for evaluation.

The option of accepting the check will be presented to women in abortion clinics during the consultations they have prior to having an abortion, the site said. The region’s health department said economic reasons were the predominant reason that woman have abortions.

Critics attacked the measure as “a short-term solution to a long-term problem,” according to Italian media.

The fund is called “Nasko,” a play on the Italian word “nasco,” which roughly translates to “I’m being born.”