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UNFPA Global Population Policy Update
Laws and Policies in Estonia, Georgia, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine
ISSUE 95 - 11 February 2011
This issue of the UNFPA Global Population Policy Update chronicles major laws and policies relating to Gender Equality, HIV and AIDs and abortion adopted and amended in late 2009 and 2010 in the Eastern Europe region.
Serbia Approves Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality
In 2010, Serbia approved an Action Plan for Implementing the National Strategy for Improving the Situation of Women and the Promotion of Gender Equality, 2010-2015. This plan has six goals: a) increasing women's participation in decision-making; b) improving the economic position of women; c) achieving gender equality in education; d) improving the health of women and promoting gender equality in health policy; e) preventing and combating all forms of violence against women and providing a comprehensive system of protection for women victims of violence; and f) eliminating gender stereotypes in the media. For each specific goal, the strategy defines the activities to be undertaken, expected results of the proposed activities, and indicators (both qualitative and quantitative) on which to monitor the implementation of the strategy and measure the results achieved.
In the area of health, the plan includes the following objectives: a) maintaining and improving the general health of women; b) providing access to quality health care for women, especially for women from multiple disadvantaged groups; c) improving the reproductive health of women; d) strengthening the capacity of health care services by introducing a gender dimension into the system; e) increasing women's participation in decision-making about health-care policy; and, f) increasing women's participation in sports activities.
The provisions on reproductive health include the following, among other things: a) creating national programmes for the early detection of cervical cancer and breast cancer; b) empowering young people to adopt responsible attitudes to sexuality and reproductive health; c) promoting gender relations and sexual health, based on mutual respect, equality and responsibility; d) providing quality services for family planning; e) preventing and reducing the number of abortions; f) promoting safer methods of family planning and reducing the number of adolescent pregnancies; g) preventing risky sexual behaviour and reducing the incidence of sexually transmitted infections and HIV; h) making available, through the educational system, information on reproductive health; i) providing a more humane approach to delivery and safe motherhood, and giving mothers special support and protection before and after childbirth; j) improving the quality of life of post-menopausal women; k) providing quality services for family planning and fertility treatment, promoting safer methods of family planning, and reducing maternal mortality; l) informing women about the need for and the use of various types of contraception; m) increasing the number of women using contraceptives; n) improving the knowledge of young people in the area of reproductive health; o) increasing the use of condoms; p) reducing the number of high-risk pregnancies, abortions, and premature deliveries; and q) changing the behaviour of pregnant women and promoting healthy habits. Further provisions deal with monitoring, evaluation, reporting and budgeting.
Ukraine Approves Comprehensive Care during Unwanted Pregnancies
On 31 December 2010, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine approved a clinical protocol for comprehensive care during unwanted pregnancies. This protocol indicates State policy to be pursued by the country's health services, taking into account existing legislation, and serves as a means for medical professionals to provide high-quality support services focused on the needs of women. The protocol is designed, among others to: a) provide comprehensive care during an unwanted pregnancy, b) maintain and improve women's reproductive health by improving the quality and efficiency of services for the prevention of unwanted pregnancy, and, c) set forth safe procedures for abortion and measures to prevent complications.
The first two parts of the protocol contains the following provisions, among others: a) managers of health facilities must create conditions ensuring privacy, not only for communication with health workers, but also for carrying out procedures; b) health workers must ensure that the information received from women remains confidential; c) patients may choose a physician to perform the procedure; d) they can also choose their method of abortion; e) physicians should inform patients of possible complications of abortion; and f) after the abortion is performed, patients are to be informed about sterilization, contraceptive methods, and symptoms that should be reported to physicians immediately.
The third part of the protocol sets forth medical conditions that justify the performance of abortions between the 12th and 22nd weeks of pregnancy. These include the presence of HIV infection or congenital abnormalities diagnosed in a foetus. Women can also have an abortion during this period if the pregnancy resulted from rape, the woman is an age below the age of 15 or over 45, or if she is disabled. The fourth part of the protocol describes universal measures to prevent infections, and the fifth part provides for comprehensive care during an unwanted pregnancy, including provisions on preventive measures, diagnosis and testing, treatment for complications, ethics, confidentiality, counselling, contraindications, and the use of various abortion methods (including abortion using drugs).
Moldova Adopts Regulations for Safe Abortion
On 21 September 2010, the Ministry of Health issued an Order that sets forth regulations on the safe conduct of abortions. The order includes the following provisions, among others: a) abortion is based on choice, both in the woman's right to reproductive health including the right to motherhood, and the free choice of a health-care institution; b) abortion is performed in relevant medical institutions, regardless of place of residence or residence permit of the woman; c) abortion may be performed only by doctors in obstetrics and gynaecology specialists trained in providing the service; d) relevant medical institutions are to ensure free and unfettered access to abortion services for pregnant women under conditions of confidentiality; e) relevant medical institutions shall inform each pregnant woman on the methods of, alternatives to, and risks of abortion; f) relevant medical institutions shall display, visibly and accessibly, patient rights with respect to abortion; g) doctors who perform abortions shall maintain daily records of patient interventions in the register of abortions; h) pregnant women under the age of 16 require the consent of their guardian, except when their pregnancy endangers their life; i) abortion by drugs may be performed during the first nine weeks of pregnancy by obstetricians/gynaecologists trained in this method; and j) the presence of congenital malformations in the foetus shall be confirmed by at least two specialists in ultrasound.
The order also contains provisions on the requirements for different abortion methods and the performance of abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases before abortion, medical histories and required written consent. The social indications for abortion include: a) the pregnant women is under age 18 or over 40; b) the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest, or human trafficking; c) the woman has divorced during pregnancy; d) the husband has died during pregnancy; e) one or both spouses has been deprived of parental rights; f) the woman is in the process of migrating; g) the woman has five or more children; h) the woman is caring for a child under the age of two; i) the woman has one or more disabled family members who require care; and j) the woman is subject to two of the following: lack of residence, lack of financial resources, domestic violence, or drug or alcohol abuse.
Georgia Enacts Law on HIV/AIDs
On 11 November 2009, Georgia enacted a new law on HIV and AIDS. The law stipulates that testing for HIV is voluntary, anonymous, and confidential except in cases of the testing of blood, tissues, organs, and reproductive materials. It also provides for testing to be offered for newborn children and contains provisions for HIV-infected persons to be provided with diagnosis, treatment, care and support, as well as information on prevention. Persons diagnosed with HIV and AIDS are required to provide information to health centres, including information about their sexual contacts, while the centres are required to notify an infected person’s spouse or sexual partner. The centres are required, in most other cases, to maintain an infected person’s confidentiality. The law stipulates that infected persons are guaranteed full civil, political, economic and cultural rights and may not be dismissed from work except in the case of activities where there is a high risk of infection. It requires that the infected persons must inform their sexual partners or spouses of their HIV status. The law replaces a 1995 law on the same subject.
Estonia Amends Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Act
On 2 October 2009, Estonia approved legislation amending the Gender Equality Act and the Equal Treatment Act. The amendments include the following provisions, among others: a) expands the definitions of direct and indirect discrimination; b) prohibits gender harassment in addition to sexual harassment; c) allows temporary measures to be applied to promote gender equality; d) stipulates that pay equity includes equity in benefits; e) provides that discrimination exists if a worker is treated less favourably for belonging to a workers’ organization; and f) expands the duty of employers to promote the candidature of both men and women for vacancies.
All previous issues of the UNFPA Global Population Policy Update can be found on UNFPA's website at:
This newsletter is issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its capacity as the secretariat for the biennial International Parliamentarians' Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (IPCI/ICPD). The first IPCI/ICPD was held in November 2002 in Ottawa, Canada; the second in October 2004 in Strasbourg, France; the third in November 2006 in Bangkok, Thailand; and the fourth in November 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. These dispatches are intended to highlight major developments taking place around the world so that parliamentarians can stay informed of and learn from the successes, setbacks and challenges encountered by their fellow counterparts in other countries and regions in their efforts to promote the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (September 1994, Cairo, Egypt). It should be noted that UNFPA does not necessarily endorse the policies described in this newsletter.
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