Minister Refuses to Reveal Writers of New Abortion Law

Total Croatia News

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ZAGREB, November 26, 2018 – The new abortion law is expected to be finalised by February next year, and since this is a very sensitive matter, the recently established commission will first analyse the existing legislation in European Union countries, both those in which abortion is banned and those in which it is fully liberalised, Health Minister Milan Kujundžić told Hina on Monday.

The bill drafting commission has about ten members, including representatives of the medical profession, bioethicists and jurists, who will primarily focus on the results of legislation in the EU rather than on worldview issues, the minister said. He would not reveal the names of the commission members or of the institutions they come from, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

The abortion law currently in force in Croatia was adopted in 1979. “Governments have changed without touching it. I think that the Constitutional Court ruling is right and that the law should be brought up to date. This government will take that responsibility,” Kujundžić said.

The Constitutional Court delivered a ruling on 2 March 2017 obliging the Croatian Parliament to pass a new abortion bill within two years, noting that it was not possible to ban pregnancy termination.

“The legislative arrangement under which termination is allowed up to ten weeks of pregnancy is not unconstitutional. If the Parliament decided to the contrary, it would be against the Constitutional Court ruling,” Constitutional Court president Miroslav Šeparović said then. He added: “I don’t think that there is a constitutional right to abortion as a human right but only women’s right to privacy, which includes the right to freedom of choice.”

The Constitutional Court passed the ruling after throwing out a motion filed by a civil society organisation 26 years ago to declare the 1979 Abortion Act unconstitutional.

Gender Equality Ombudsman Višnja Ljubičić said that so far she had not been invited to participate in drafting the new bill, but that she expected the new law not to be restrictive on women’s rights. “I expect it to retain the existing rights and possibly to be more modern in certain areas,” she said, adding that the names of the members of the bill drafting commission should not be kept secret.

“Anything concerning the preparation of national legislation should be transparent. A vow of secrecy is not good in any respect and does not give a sense of security to citizens,” Ljubičić said. She announced that she would ask for her office to get involved in drafting the bill by submitting its proposals and remarks.

“We don’t want to act post festum, through amendments. We want to take part in policy making because we work on specific cases of human rights violations and because we receive complaints from citizens and can help improve any legal framework,” Ljubičić said.

Iva Davorija of the Platform for Reproductive Rights, which brings together non-governmental organisations, said they considered it a problem that the new bill would be finalised within the next three months without the public knowing who was working on it and who was deciding on women’s rights. She said that it was not clear whether the Catholic Church would be involved in drafting the bill.

For more on the abortion issue in Croatia, click here.


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