The Human Rights Committee asks Macedonia why the country restricts abortion
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) was ratified by the Republic of Macedonia in 1994. During the last month the body that monitors implementation of this Covenant, the Human Rights Committee (HRCtte) of the United Nations in Geneva, within the procedure for considering the “Third Periodic Report of the Republic of Macedonia with regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” composed a list of issues. Among the other questions concerning the various spheres of the rights guaranteed and protected by the Covenant, the Committee has asked our country the following question regarding the right to life, prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and treatment of persons deprived of their liberty (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 10):
Please respond to concerns that the “Law on Termination of Pregnancy” and the public campaigns undertaken by the government limit access to abortion, which has introduced mandatory counselling and a mandatory waiting period for women seeking legal abortion, complies with the Covenant. Please report on measures to increase the access to contraception methods and reduce the high infant mortality rate.
If in its concluding observations from 2008, the HRCtte recognized the progress in the field of equality between men and women in Macedonia, this is first cautioning coming from high body for human rights protection about the abortion restrictions, relating to the country’s failure to respect its obligations regarding the ICCPR. In anticipation of the answer which the country should provide by the end of the year, we would like to remind the public that the HRCtte had addresses these issues:
– before the Constitutional Court made its decision not to consider the constitutionality of the Law on Termination of Pregnancy;
– before the Rulebook on the Counselling of Pregnant Woman in Advance of Termination of Pregnancy was enacted, which is not in accordance with the World Health Organizations’ recommendations and which additionally dehumanizes and degrades the woman and her right to decide freely on the matter of terminating a pregnancy;
– but most importantly, before the new cases were registered which made it clear that the implementation of the Law brought into danger the health and life of another two women.
H.E.R.A. on the occasion of the marking of the International Day of Human Rights recommends:
– Deletion of the legal restrictions of women’s right to freely decide about her own body and plan her parenthood, contained in Article 6 of the Law on Abortion (delivering a written request to the healthcare institution for termination of pregnancy, mandatory counselling and waiting for a period of three days after the counselling in order to receive the service),
– and amending the content and the manner of Counselling Rulebook in accordance with the World Health Organization’s recommendations for safe abortion.
It could be expected that if these amendments are not made, Macedonia will be recognized in the international community as a country in which, due to abortion restrictions, women’s right to life is threatened and women are exposed to torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.
Skopje, December 10th, 2014