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.



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)


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.


According to the report published by Macedonian Health Ministry, last year only 500 women have voluntarily decided to undergo abortion in Skopje. The decline is striking compared with the statistics coming from the early 90s when there were 6000 interrupted pregnancies in the country. According to doctors of the State Gynecologist Clinic, the reduced number is no reason to rejoice as it doesn’t take into account the unaccounted abortions that take place in private hospitals and clinics across the country.  In fact, the government clinic continues to receive patients with complications caused by inappropriate and unprofessional termination of pregnancy. The research shows that level of abortion remains high and knowledge about contraception is scarce. According to the survey conducted by Gallup BRIMA in 2009, revealed that 94 percent of young women between 15 and 19 years and more than 50 percent Macedonian women were not using any contraceptives.