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Camilo Jimenez

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A selection of stories from across the Federation

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New European Parliament must uphold and advance sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality

As we wait for the political landscape of the new EP to come fully into focus after the EU elections, IPPF EN is determined to remind MEPs of their proud legacy as champions of human rights.

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| 31 August 2023

Romania: IPPF EN is appalled by the failures of the Romanian healthcare system

IPPF EN is deeply worried by recent reports of denial of healthcare in Romania that speak to a shocking wider systemic problem. Last week, the case of Alexandra, a 25-year-old mother of three, who was denied emergency obstetric care in a hospital for seven hours, has ignited protests in Romania and heavy media coverage. The cause of death was an obstetric emergency which led to sepsis, acute cardio-respiratory insufficiency and acute pulmonary edema. Alexandra endured terrible pain for hours and asked for help from those whose duty was to save her, but her pleas went unanswered. The case is being investigated by the police. Alexandra's case is one of many pointing to a crumbling healthcare system that is harming all Romanian citizens. The country’s healthcare system is rated 34 out of 35 by the Euro Health Consumer Index. Things are especially dire for groups of people who are already made vulnerable by the system, such as women, Roma people and those living in poverty. Institutionalised stigma and discrimination run deep, with patients reporting being denied care or not being given quality care due to the colour of their skin or their ability to pay. The system is broken for everyone, but it is groups already facing challenging circumstances who bear the brunt. “From 2018 until 2021, there was an 183% increase in the maternal mortality rate. It’s unconceivable for an EU Member State to have such a high maternal and infant mortality rate. And it’s devastating that so many women have lost their lives, leaving their families behind. And while women’s health paints a grim picture, the problem is more widespread touching on all areas of health. Romania is among the countries that spends the least on healthcare as a share of GDP.” said Gabriel Brumariu from SECS, IPPF’s Romanian Member Association.

Romanian flag
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| 31 August 2023

Romania: IPPF EN is appalled by the failures of the Romanian healthcare system

IPPF EN is deeply worried by recent reports of denial of healthcare in Romania that speak to a shocking wider systemic problem. Last week, the case of Alexandra, a 25-year-old mother of three, who was denied emergency obstetric care in a hospital for seven hours, has ignited protests in Romania and heavy media coverage. The cause of death was an obstetric emergency which led to sepsis, acute cardio-respiratory insufficiency and acute pulmonary edema. Alexandra endured terrible pain for hours and asked for help from those whose duty was to save her, but her pleas went unanswered. The case is being investigated by the police. Alexandra's case is one of many pointing to a crumbling healthcare system that is harming all Romanian citizens. The country’s healthcare system is rated 34 out of 35 by the Euro Health Consumer Index. Things are especially dire for groups of people who are already made vulnerable by the system, such as women, Roma people and those living in poverty. Institutionalised stigma and discrimination run deep, with patients reporting being denied care or not being given quality care due to the colour of their skin or their ability to pay. The system is broken for everyone, but it is groups already facing challenging circumstances who bear the brunt. “From 2018 until 2021, there was an 183% increase in the maternal mortality rate. It’s unconceivable for an EU Member State to have such a high maternal and infant mortality rate. And it’s devastating that so many women have lost their lives, leaving their families behind. And while women’s health paints a grim picture, the problem is more widespread touching on all areas of health. Romania is among the countries that spends the least on healthcare as a share of GDP.” said Gabriel Brumariu from SECS, IPPF’s Romanian Member Association.

Abortion is Healthcare illustration
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| 30 June 2023

Sickening new Maltese law is step backwards that will kill women

On 28 June, Malta’s Parliament adopted a new law, known as Bill 28, intended originally to increase protection for women by allowing abortion care in exceptional cases. However, the final version of the law specifies that abortion is only allowed when a woman is at risk of dying and denies life-saving care to a person experiencing an obstetric emergency unless she is in a licenced hospital and has the consent of a panel of three specialists. This is a devastating step backwards in the only European Union country to have a total ban on abortion in all circumstances. “The new law introduces dangerous and insurmountable obstacles to saving women’s lives, given that obstetric emergencies are very fast-moving situations in which you can die without rapid medical intervention – as we have seen in Poland, Ireland and Italy when access to abortion care was withheld until it was too late,” said IPPF EN’s Irene Donadio. The adoption of Bill 28 is all the more shocking given that the government’s objective when it announced the reform in 2022 was to ensure a bare minimum of access to abortion care in cases where a woman’s life or health was at severe risk*. Pro-choice doctors and activists in Malta had supported a bill that aimed to lessen just slightly the longstanding stranglehold of the law on pregnant women**. Instead, as a result of ultraconservative anti-choice opposition to women’s reproductive freedom and safety, the protections of the initial proposal were subsequently watered down to the point that on 23 June, prochoice doctors associations and groups for women rights withdrew their support for the bill. The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights echoed their concerns on 26 June, calling for the Maltese parliament to pause and reflect to avoid steps backwards. But calls to change course were not heard. “This backtracking, and the subsequent adoption this week of a bill that not only fails to protect, but actively exacerbates the existing harm done to women by Malta’s medieval abortion legislation, is a humiliating miscalculation by the ruling party. The government has handed victory to Malta’s reproductive bullies on a plate,” continued Donadio. “The terrifying result of the government’s botched political move is that women can die under their watch. People will be deterred from visiting Malta, seeing that its leaders have doubled down on denying emergency medical care to anyone suffering an obstetric emergency. The only people to gain new protections are certain doctors who are afraid to shoulder responsibility for the lives of their patients. If the government wants to make the situation less desperate, it must decriminalise abortion so that at least women can take their health and lives into their own hands, with the support of brave pro-choice doctors and networks, and without the fear of prosecution,” she added.     --- *In 2022, facing scrutiny due to the high-profile emergency evacuation from Malta of Andrea Prudente, an American tourist undergoing a life-threatening miscarriage, the government proposed to amend the law to introduce a minimum of protection for women. **The original draft bill proposed to legalise abortion in cases where a woman’s health was at grave risk. --- For more information, contact: [email protected] [email protected] Additional background and latest information via Doctors for Choice and Voice for Choice.  

Abortion is Healthcare illustration
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| 30 June 2023

Sickening new Maltese law is step backwards that will kill women

On 28 June, Malta’s Parliament adopted a new law, known as Bill 28, intended originally to increase protection for women by allowing abortion care in exceptional cases. However, the final version of the law specifies that abortion is only allowed when a woman is at risk of dying and denies life-saving care to a person experiencing an obstetric emergency unless she is in a licenced hospital and has the consent of a panel of three specialists. This is a devastating step backwards in the only European Union country to have a total ban on abortion in all circumstances. “The new law introduces dangerous and insurmountable obstacles to saving women’s lives, given that obstetric emergencies are very fast-moving situations in which you can die without rapid medical intervention – as we have seen in Poland, Ireland and Italy when access to abortion care was withheld until it was too late,” said IPPF EN’s Irene Donadio. The adoption of Bill 28 is all the more shocking given that the government’s objective when it announced the reform in 2022 was to ensure a bare minimum of access to abortion care in cases where a woman’s life or health was at severe risk*. Pro-choice doctors and activists in Malta had supported a bill that aimed to lessen just slightly the longstanding stranglehold of the law on pregnant women**. Instead, as a result of ultraconservative anti-choice opposition to women’s reproductive freedom and safety, the protections of the initial proposal were subsequently watered down to the point that on 23 June, prochoice doctors associations and groups for women rights withdrew their support for the bill. The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights echoed their concerns on 26 June, calling for the Maltese parliament to pause and reflect to avoid steps backwards. But calls to change course were not heard. “This backtracking, and the subsequent adoption this week of a bill that not only fails to protect, but actively exacerbates the existing harm done to women by Malta’s medieval abortion legislation, is a humiliating miscalculation by the ruling party. The government has handed victory to Malta’s reproductive bullies on a plate,” continued Donadio. “The terrifying result of the government’s botched political move is that women can die under their watch. People will be deterred from visiting Malta, seeing that its leaders have doubled down on denying emergency medical care to anyone suffering an obstetric emergency. The only people to gain new protections are certain doctors who are afraid to shoulder responsibility for the lives of their patients. If the government wants to make the situation less desperate, it must decriminalise abortion so that at least women can take their health and lives into their own hands, with the support of brave pro-choice doctors and networks, and without the fear of prosecution,” she added.     --- *In 2022, facing scrutiny due to the high-profile emergency evacuation from Malta of Andrea Prudente, an American tourist undergoing a life-threatening miscarriage, the government proposed to amend the law to introduce a minimum of protection for women. **The original draft bill proposed to legalise abortion in cases where a woman’s health was at grave risk. --- For more information, contact: [email protected] [email protected] Additional background and latest information via Doctors for Choice and Voice for Choice.  

Image activism on gender-based violence
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| 28 June 2023

European Parliament Committees support and strengthen EU bill on gender-based violence

IPPF EN welcomes today’s vote on the draft EU Directive to combat Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence by the European Parliament's Committees for Women's Rights and Gender Equality and Justice. MEPs overwhelmingly backed the Commission’s ambitious original proposal by 71 votes to 5 with 7 abstentions. Their move ensures this vital law will go even further in protecting the rights and safety of women, girls and people affected to live free from gender-based violence. Crucially, MEPs have supported the European Commission's proposal to ensure EU-wide criminalisation of rape with a definition based on the absence of consent.* "This is a strong signal that the Parliament, as a representative of EU citizens, wants a consent-based definition of rape to be the standard throughout Europe. This is in line with the language of the Istanbul Convention, which is now 15 years old, but was only recently ratified by the EU after years of stalemate," said Camille Butin for IPPF EN. "Now we strongly urge the EU institutions to adopt ambitious and robust final wording that truly centres the objective of the Directive, which is to help combat violence against women and uphold gender equality in Europe. In particular, we call on Member States to find the political will to take effective action against rape, after they failed to back a consent-based definition in their recent preliminary position," added Butin. IPPF EN welcomes MEPs' backing today of the following vital amendments to the original draft Directive: Addition of criminalisation of sexual assault, genital mutilation of intersex people and forced sterilisation. MEPs also backed the criminalisation of female genital mutilation and various forms of online violence. Inclusion of full range of sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion care, in support services for victims of sexual violence. Robust wording on including comprehensive sexuality and relationship education in gender-based violence prevention measures. This requires EU countries to increase awareness of the concept of consent, promote gender equality and challenge harmful gender stereotypes, particularly working with men and boys. Clear focus on intersectionality in wording on discrimination faced by victims of gender-based violence, including LGBTIQ people. IPPF EN regrets MEPs’ decision to replace the wording ‘women sex workers’ with ‘women in prostitution’ as sex workers themselves perceive this term as demeaning and linked with criminality. IPPF EN stands with sex workers, and rejects stigmatisation that has devastating consequences for them. The next step in this legislative process will be for the European Parliament and Council to negotiate on the basis of their preliminary positions in order to reach agreement on the final text of the Directive.  Media contact : Camille Butin, Advocacy Advisor, [email protected] --- *14 EU Member States still have laws with outdated definitions of rape based on use of force or the threat of force by the perpetrator, as opposed to absence of consent by the victim. These laws fail to meet international human rights standards, including the 2008 Istanbul Convention, to which the EU recently acceded. They ignore the realities that many survivors face in the context of rape, overlook the fact that a person can rape without using physical force or violence, and enable significant impunity for perpetrators.

Image activism on gender-based violence
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| 28 June 2023

European Parliament Committees support and strengthen EU bill on gender-based violence

IPPF EN welcomes today’s vote on the draft EU Directive to combat Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence by the European Parliament's Committees for Women's Rights and Gender Equality and Justice. MEPs overwhelmingly backed the Commission’s ambitious original proposal by 71 votes to 5 with 7 abstentions. Their move ensures this vital law will go even further in protecting the rights and safety of women, girls and people affected to live free from gender-based violence. Crucially, MEPs have supported the European Commission's proposal to ensure EU-wide criminalisation of rape with a definition based on the absence of consent.* "This is a strong signal that the Parliament, as a representative of EU citizens, wants a consent-based definition of rape to be the standard throughout Europe. This is in line with the language of the Istanbul Convention, which is now 15 years old, but was only recently ratified by the EU after years of stalemate," said Camille Butin for IPPF EN. "Now we strongly urge the EU institutions to adopt ambitious and robust final wording that truly centres the objective of the Directive, which is to help combat violence against women and uphold gender equality in Europe. In particular, we call on Member States to find the political will to take effective action against rape, after they failed to back a consent-based definition in their recent preliminary position," added Butin. IPPF EN welcomes MEPs' backing today of the following vital amendments to the original draft Directive: Addition of criminalisation of sexual assault, genital mutilation of intersex people and forced sterilisation. MEPs also backed the criminalisation of female genital mutilation and various forms of online violence. Inclusion of full range of sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion care, in support services for victims of sexual violence. Robust wording on including comprehensive sexuality and relationship education in gender-based violence prevention measures. This requires EU countries to increase awareness of the concept of consent, promote gender equality and challenge harmful gender stereotypes, particularly working with men and boys. Clear focus on intersectionality in wording on discrimination faced by victims of gender-based violence, including LGBTIQ people. IPPF EN regrets MEPs’ decision to replace the wording ‘women sex workers’ with ‘women in prostitution’ as sex workers themselves perceive this term as demeaning and linked with criminality. IPPF EN stands with sex workers, and rejects stigmatisation that has devastating consequences for them. The next step in this legislative process will be for the European Parliament and Council to negotiate on the basis of their preliminary positions in order to reach agreement on the final text of the Directive.  Media contact : Camille Butin, Advocacy Advisor, [email protected] --- *14 EU Member States still have laws with outdated definitions of rape based on use of force or the threat of force by the perpetrator, as opposed to absence of consent by the victim. These laws fail to meet international human rights standards, including the 2008 Istanbul Convention, to which the EU recently acceded. They ignore the realities that many survivors face in the context of rape, overlook the fact that a person can rape without using physical force or violence, and enable significant impunity for perpetrators.

Abortion is Healthcare illustration
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| 14 June 2023

IPPF demands reform of the UK Abortion Act 1967 to decriminalize abortion

A judge in England has sentenced a mother-of-three to 28 months in prison for using abortion medication to end her pregnancy. This sentencing represents a violation of human rights and highlights the urgent need for the reform of legislation and for the decriminalization of abortion across the UK.   The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is outraged by the decision to send a woman to jail for ending her own pregnancy and calls for the decriminalization of abortion to enable women and pregnant people to exercise their human right to reproductive autonomy, free from the threat of criminal prosecution.      In Britain, the number of women and girls facing police investigations and the threat of a prison sentence under current abortion laws has risen over the past three years. Despite significant public support for abortion rights and increasing recognition of abortion as essential healthcare, England, Scotland, and Wales still rely on an abortion law that is more than 50 years old, and which is underpinned by a criminal law dating back to 1861. This law is wildly out of date, out of step with public opinion, and is behind other countries which have moved towards extending and protecting abortion rights.    Dr Alvaro Bermejo, Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, said:  "The decision to hand-down a 28-month prison sentence to a woman for ending her own pregnancy is appalling and a step-back for women's health and rights in the UK. Abortion is healthcare and should not be included in criminal law.   "One in three women in Britain will have an abortion in their lifetime. We need abortion policies and care that are supportive of every woman according to her unique needs and circumstances.  No woman should ever face criminal charges or the threat of jail for seeking abortion care.   "IPPF fully supports the urgent reform of the abortion law and calls for the decriminalization of abortion.”     Maïté Matos Ichaso, Director of Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF), the only global fund dedicated to abortion, hosted by IPPF, said:  “As a global Fund dedicated to abortion, we see the devastating impact of abortion criminalisation on a daily basis. Across the world, women are languishing in prison for choosing to end their pregnancies, but also for experiencing miscarriages. The very threat of criminalisation looms large and adds to the existing stigma and barriers people face in accessing safe abortion care. Our grantee partners regularly report raids and prosecutions, not only of those seeking abortion care but also of the doctors and nurses who seek to support them.   Abortion needs to be decriminalised across the UK, as well as around the world, if we really want to see the right to safe reproductive health care respected and protected.”  IPPF has signed a joint position statement with partners including the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health, calling on the UK government to reform the Abortion Act 1967 to decriminalize people seeking to end their own pregnancies. To read the full statement please click here.   IPPF will continue to work tirelessly to protect the rights of all people around the globe to access abortion care and ensure that women will not be forced to carry a pregnancy or give birth against their will.  Note on language - Within this statement we use the terms women and women’s health. However, not only people who identify as women need access to abortion care and this statement is inclusive of all people who can become pregnant, including intersex people, transgender men and boys, and people with other gender identities that may have the reproductive capacity to become pregnant and an abortion.   Header illustration by Tanya Shyika, The Greats

Abortion is Healthcare illustration
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| 13 June 2023

IPPF demands reform of the UK Abortion Act 1967 to decriminalize abortion

A judge in England has sentenced a mother-of-three to 28 months in prison for using abortion medication to end her pregnancy. This sentencing represents a violation of human rights and highlights the urgent need for the reform of legislation and for the decriminalization of abortion across the UK.   The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is outraged by the decision to send a woman to jail for ending her own pregnancy and calls for the decriminalization of abortion to enable women and pregnant people to exercise their human right to reproductive autonomy, free from the threat of criminal prosecution.      In Britain, the number of women and girls facing police investigations and the threat of a prison sentence under current abortion laws has risen over the past three years. Despite significant public support for abortion rights and increasing recognition of abortion as essential healthcare, England, Scotland, and Wales still rely on an abortion law that is more than 50 years old, and which is underpinned by a criminal law dating back to 1861. This law is wildly out of date, out of step with public opinion, and is behind other countries which have moved towards extending and protecting abortion rights.    Dr Alvaro Bermejo, Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, said:  "The decision to hand-down a 28-month prison sentence to a woman for ending her own pregnancy is appalling and a step-back for women's health and rights in the UK. Abortion is healthcare and should not be included in criminal law.   "One in three women in Britain will have an abortion in their lifetime. We need abortion policies and care that are supportive of every woman according to her unique needs and circumstances.  No woman should ever face criminal charges or the threat of jail for seeking abortion care.   "IPPF fully supports the urgent reform of the abortion law and calls for the decriminalization of abortion.”     Maïté Matos Ichaso, Director of Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF), the only global fund dedicated to abortion, hosted by IPPF, said:  “As a global Fund dedicated to abortion, we see the devastating impact of abortion criminalisation on a daily basis. Across the world, women are languishing in prison for choosing to end their pregnancies, but also for experiencing miscarriages. The very threat of criminalisation looms large and adds to the existing stigma and barriers people face in accessing safe abortion care. Our grantee partners regularly report raids and prosecutions, not only of those seeking abortion care but also of the doctors and nurses who seek to support them.   Abortion needs to be decriminalised across the UK, as well as around the world, if we really want to see the right to safe reproductive health care respected and protected.”  IPPF has signed a joint position statement with partners including the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health, calling on the UK government to reform the Abortion Act 1967 to decriminalize people seeking to end their own pregnancies. To read the full statement please click here.   IPPF will continue to work tirelessly to protect the rights of all people around the globe to access abortion care and ensure that women will not be forced to carry a pregnancy or give birth against their will.  Note on language - Within this statement we use the terms women and women’s health. However, not only people who identify as women need access to abortion care and this statement is inclusive of all people who can become pregnant, including intersex people, transgender men and boys, and people with other gender identities that may have the reproductive capacity to become pregnant and an abortion.   Header illustration by Tanya Shyika, The Greats

Woman and daughter being supported
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| 09 June 2023

IPPF EN condemns Member States' failure to back EU action against rape

Today the EU Council agreed a preliminary position on the European Commission’s bold proposal for an EU Directive to Combat Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. IPPF EN deeply regrets that the Council’s General Approach reveals a decision by Member States to cut from the draft law a requirement for all EU countries to criminalise rape using a strong and harmonised definition based on the absence of consent by the victim*. The progressive definition in the European Commission’s proposal was fully aligned with the Istanbul Convention, to which the EU recently acceded after years of stalling by national governments. "Women, girls and minorities across the EU face widespread sexual violence, and this goes largely unpunished. It is inexcusable that the Council has today failed to find the political will to take effective action against rape. Member States are jeopardising a unique opportunity for the EU to adopt a law that guarantees equal rights for all women and girls to access justice and live safe from sexual violence," says Camille Butin for IPPF EN. Member States and the European Parliament will need to reach an agreement on the final text of the Directive in the coming months. MEPs are expected to support the European Commission’s proposal to harmonise the criminalisation of rape.

Woman and daughter being supported
media_center

| 09 June 2023

IPPF EN condemns Member States' failure to back EU action against rape

Today the EU Council agreed a preliminary position on the European Commission’s bold proposal for an EU Directive to Combat Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. IPPF EN deeply regrets that the Council’s General Approach reveals a decision by Member States to cut from the draft law a requirement for all EU countries to criminalise rape using a strong and harmonised definition based on the absence of consent by the victim*. The progressive definition in the European Commission’s proposal was fully aligned with the Istanbul Convention, to which the EU recently acceded after years of stalling by national governments. "Women, girls and minorities across the EU face widespread sexual violence, and this goes largely unpunished. It is inexcusable that the Council has today failed to find the political will to take effective action against rape. Member States are jeopardising a unique opportunity for the EU to adopt a law that guarantees equal rights for all women and girls to access justice and live safe from sexual violence," says Camille Butin for IPPF EN. Member States and the European Parliament will need to reach an agreement on the final text of the Directive in the coming months. MEPs are expected to support the European Commission’s proposal to harmonise the criminalisation of rape.

Justyna ADT
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| 14 March 2023

Poland: IPPF EN is appalled by the guilty verdict in the case of Justyna Wydrzyńska

Today, the District Court in Warsaw found Justyna Wydrzyńska guilty for helping a woman in an abusive relationship to access abortion pills. She was sentenced to eight months of community service for 30 hours/month and will now have a criminal record. "We are deeply saddened by the decision and outraged by the entire process. Condemning a person for an act of empathy and compassion towards another human being is unconceivable. We are in awe of Justyna’s bravery in the face of 18 months of judicial persecution by an apparatus targeting anyone who dares challenge the state’s immoral attacks on healthcare and human rights", said Irene Donadio of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network (IPPF EN).

Justyna ADT
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| 14 March 2023

Poland: IPPF EN is appalled by the guilty verdict in the case of Justyna Wydrzyńska

Today, the District Court in Warsaw found Justyna Wydrzyńska guilty for helping a woman in an abusive relationship to access abortion pills. She was sentenced to eight months of community service for 30 hours/month and will now have a criminal record. "We are deeply saddened by the decision and outraged by the entire process. Condemning a person for an act of empathy and compassion towards another human being is unconceivable. We are in awe of Justyna’s bravery in the face of 18 months of judicial persecution by an apparatus targeting anyone who dares challenge the state’s immoral attacks on healthcare and human rights", said Irene Donadio of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network (IPPF EN).

Romanian flag
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| 31 August 2023

Romania: IPPF EN is appalled by the failures of the Romanian healthcare system

IPPF EN is deeply worried by recent reports of denial of healthcare in Romania that speak to a shocking wider systemic problem. Last week, the case of Alexandra, a 25-year-old mother of three, who was denied emergency obstetric care in a hospital for seven hours, has ignited protests in Romania and heavy media coverage. The cause of death was an obstetric emergency which led to sepsis, acute cardio-respiratory insufficiency and acute pulmonary edema. Alexandra endured terrible pain for hours and asked for help from those whose duty was to save her, but her pleas went unanswered. The case is being investigated by the police. Alexandra's case is one of many pointing to a crumbling healthcare system that is harming all Romanian citizens. The country’s healthcare system is rated 34 out of 35 by the Euro Health Consumer Index. Things are especially dire for groups of people who are already made vulnerable by the system, such as women, Roma people and those living in poverty. Institutionalised stigma and discrimination run deep, with patients reporting being denied care or not being given quality care due to the colour of their skin or their ability to pay. The system is broken for everyone, but it is groups already facing challenging circumstances who bear the brunt. “From 2018 until 2021, there was an 183% increase in the maternal mortality rate. It’s unconceivable for an EU Member State to have such a high maternal and infant mortality rate. And it’s devastating that so many women have lost their lives, leaving their families behind. And while women’s health paints a grim picture, the problem is more widespread touching on all areas of health. Romania is among the countries that spends the least on healthcare as a share of GDP.” said Gabriel Brumariu from SECS, IPPF’s Romanian Member Association.

Romanian flag
media_center

| 31 August 2023

Romania: IPPF EN is appalled by the failures of the Romanian healthcare system

IPPF EN is deeply worried by recent reports of denial of healthcare in Romania that speak to a shocking wider systemic problem. Last week, the case of Alexandra, a 25-year-old mother of three, who was denied emergency obstetric care in a hospital for seven hours, has ignited protests in Romania and heavy media coverage. The cause of death was an obstetric emergency which led to sepsis, acute cardio-respiratory insufficiency and acute pulmonary edema. Alexandra endured terrible pain for hours and asked for help from those whose duty was to save her, but her pleas went unanswered. The case is being investigated by the police. Alexandra's case is one of many pointing to a crumbling healthcare system that is harming all Romanian citizens. The country’s healthcare system is rated 34 out of 35 by the Euro Health Consumer Index. Things are especially dire for groups of people who are already made vulnerable by the system, such as women, Roma people and those living in poverty. Institutionalised stigma and discrimination run deep, with patients reporting being denied care or not being given quality care due to the colour of their skin or their ability to pay. The system is broken for everyone, but it is groups already facing challenging circumstances who bear the brunt. “From 2018 until 2021, there was an 183% increase in the maternal mortality rate. It’s unconceivable for an EU Member State to have such a high maternal and infant mortality rate. And it’s devastating that so many women have lost their lives, leaving their families behind. And while women’s health paints a grim picture, the problem is more widespread touching on all areas of health. Romania is among the countries that spends the least on healthcare as a share of GDP.” said Gabriel Brumariu from SECS, IPPF’s Romanian Member Association.

Abortion is Healthcare illustration
media center

| 30 June 2023

Sickening new Maltese law is step backwards that will kill women

On 28 June, Malta’s Parliament adopted a new law, known as Bill 28, intended originally to increase protection for women by allowing abortion care in exceptional cases. However, the final version of the law specifies that abortion is only allowed when a woman is at risk of dying and denies life-saving care to a person experiencing an obstetric emergency unless she is in a licenced hospital and has the consent of a panel of three specialists. This is a devastating step backwards in the only European Union country to have a total ban on abortion in all circumstances. “The new law introduces dangerous and insurmountable obstacles to saving women’s lives, given that obstetric emergencies are very fast-moving situations in which you can die without rapid medical intervention – as we have seen in Poland, Ireland and Italy when access to abortion care was withheld until it was too late,” said IPPF EN’s Irene Donadio. The adoption of Bill 28 is all the more shocking given that the government’s objective when it announced the reform in 2022 was to ensure a bare minimum of access to abortion care in cases where a woman’s life or health was at severe risk*. Pro-choice doctors and activists in Malta had supported a bill that aimed to lessen just slightly the longstanding stranglehold of the law on pregnant women**. Instead, as a result of ultraconservative anti-choice opposition to women’s reproductive freedom and safety, the protections of the initial proposal were subsequently watered down to the point that on 23 June, prochoice doctors associations and groups for women rights withdrew their support for the bill. The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights echoed their concerns on 26 June, calling for the Maltese parliament to pause and reflect to avoid steps backwards. But calls to change course were not heard. “This backtracking, and the subsequent adoption this week of a bill that not only fails to protect, but actively exacerbates the existing harm done to women by Malta’s medieval abortion legislation, is a humiliating miscalculation by the ruling party. The government has handed victory to Malta’s reproductive bullies on a plate,” continued Donadio. “The terrifying result of the government’s botched political move is that women can die under their watch. People will be deterred from visiting Malta, seeing that its leaders have doubled down on denying emergency medical care to anyone suffering an obstetric emergency. The only people to gain new protections are certain doctors who are afraid to shoulder responsibility for the lives of their patients. If the government wants to make the situation less desperate, it must decriminalise abortion so that at least women can take their health and lives into their own hands, with the support of brave pro-choice doctors and networks, and without the fear of prosecution,” she added.     --- *In 2022, facing scrutiny due to the high-profile emergency evacuation from Malta of Andrea Prudente, an American tourist undergoing a life-threatening miscarriage, the government proposed to amend the law to introduce a minimum of protection for women. **The original draft bill proposed to legalise abortion in cases where a woman’s health was at grave risk. --- For more information, contact: [email protected] [email protected] Additional background and latest information via Doctors for Choice and Voice for Choice.  

Abortion is Healthcare illustration
media_center

| 30 June 2023

Sickening new Maltese law is step backwards that will kill women

On 28 June, Malta’s Parliament adopted a new law, known as Bill 28, intended originally to increase protection for women by allowing abortion care in exceptional cases. However, the final version of the law specifies that abortion is only allowed when a woman is at risk of dying and denies life-saving care to a person experiencing an obstetric emergency unless she is in a licenced hospital and has the consent of a panel of three specialists. This is a devastating step backwards in the only European Union country to have a total ban on abortion in all circumstances. “The new law introduces dangerous and insurmountable obstacles to saving women’s lives, given that obstetric emergencies are very fast-moving situations in which you can die without rapid medical intervention – as we have seen in Poland, Ireland and Italy when access to abortion care was withheld until it was too late,” said IPPF EN’s Irene Donadio. The adoption of Bill 28 is all the more shocking given that the government’s objective when it announced the reform in 2022 was to ensure a bare minimum of access to abortion care in cases where a woman’s life or health was at severe risk*. Pro-choice doctors and activists in Malta had supported a bill that aimed to lessen just slightly the longstanding stranglehold of the law on pregnant women**. Instead, as a result of ultraconservative anti-choice opposition to women’s reproductive freedom and safety, the protections of the initial proposal were subsequently watered down to the point that on 23 June, prochoice doctors associations and groups for women rights withdrew their support for the bill. The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights echoed their concerns on 26 June, calling for the Maltese parliament to pause and reflect to avoid steps backwards. But calls to change course were not heard. “This backtracking, and the subsequent adoption this week of a bill that not only fails to protect, but actively exacerbates the existing harm done to women by Malta’s medieval abortion legislation, is a humiliating miscalculation by the ruling party. The government has handed victory to Malta’s reproductive bullies on a plate,” continued Donadio. “The terrifying result of the government’s botched political move is that women can die under their watch. People will be deterred from visiting Malta, seeing that its leaders have doubled down on denying emergency medical care to anyone suffering an obstetric emergency. The only people to gain new protections are certain doctors who are afraid to shoulder responsibility for the lives of their patients. If the government wants to make the situation less desperate, it must decriminalise abortion so that at least women can take their health and lives into their own hands, with the support of brave pro-choice doctors and networks, and without the fear of prosecution,” she added.     --- *In 2022, facing scrutiny due to the high-profile emergency evacuation from Malta of Andrea Prudente, an American tourist undergoing a life-threatening miscarriage, the government proposed to amend the law to introduce a minimum of protection for women. **The original draft bill proposed to legalise abortion in cases where a woman’s health was at grave risk. --- For more information, contact: [email protected] [email protected] Additional background and latest information via Doctors for Choice and Voice for Choice.  

Image activism on gender-based violence
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| 28 June 2023

European Parliament Committees support and strengthen EU bill on gender-based violence

IPPF EN welcomes today’s vote on the draft EU Directive to combat Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence by the European Parliament's Committees for Women's Rights and Gender Equality and Justice. MEPs overwhelmingly backed the Commission’s ambitious original proposal by 71 votes to 5 with 7 abstentions. Their move ensures this vital law will go even further in protecting the rights and safety of women, girls and people affected to live free from gender-based violence. Crucially, MEPs have supported the European Commission's proposal to ensure EU-wide criminalisation of rape with a definition based on the absence of consent.* "This is a strong signal that the Parliament, as a representative of EU citizens, wants a consent-based definition of rape to be the standard throughout Europe. This is in line with the language of the Istanbul Convention, which is now 15 years old, but was only recently ratified by the EU after years of stalemate," said Camille Butin for IPPF EN. "Now we strongly urge the EU institutions to adopt ambitious and robust final wording that truly centres the objective of the Directive, which is to help combat violence against women and uphold gender equality in Europe. In particular, we call on Member States to find the political will to take effective action against rape, after they failed to back a consent-based definition in their recent preliminary position," added Butin. IPPF EN welcomes MEPs' backing today of the following vital amendments to the original draft Directive: Addition of criminalisation of sexual assault, genital mutilation of intersex people and forced sterilisation. MEPs also backed the criminalisation of female genital mutilation and various forms of online violence. Inclusion of full range of sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion care, in support services for victims of sexual violence. Robust wording on including comprehensive sexuality and relationship education in gender-based violence prevention measures. This requires EU countries to increase awareness of the concept of consent, promote gender equality and challenge harmful gender stereotypes, particularly working with men and boys. Clear focus on intersectionality in wording on discrimination faced by victims of gender-based violence, including LGBTIQ people. IPPF EN regrets MEPs’ decision to replace the wording ‘women sex workers’ with ‘women in prostitution’ as sex workers themselves perceive this term as demeaning and linked with criminality. IPPF EN stands with sex workers, and rejects stigmatisation that has devastating consequences for them. The next step in this legislative process will be for the European Parliament and Council to negotiate on the basis of their preliminary positions in order to reach agreement on the final text of the Directive.  Media contact : Camille Butin, Advocacy Advisor, [email protected] --- *14 EU Member States still have laws with outdated definitions of rape based on use of force or the threat of force by the perpetrator, as opposed to absence of consent by the victim. These laws fail to meet international human rights standards, including the 2008 Istanbul Convention, to which the EU recently acceded. They ignore the realities that many survivors face in the context of rape, overlook the fact that a person can rape without using physical force or violence, and enable significant impunity for perpetrators.

Image activism on gender-based violence
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| 28 June 2023

European Parliament Committees support and strengthen EU bill on gender-based violence

IPPF EN welcomes today’s vote on the draft EU Directive to combat Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence by the European Parliament's Committees for Women's Rights and Gender Equality and Justice. MEPs overwhelmingly backed the Commission’s ambitious original proposal by 71 votes to 5 with 7 abstentions. Their move ensures this vital law will go even further in protecting the rights and safety of women, girls and people affected to live free from gender-based violence. Crucially, MEPs have supported the European Commission's proposal to ensure EU-wide criminalisation of rape with a definition based on the absence of consent.* "This is a strong signal that the Parliament, as a representative of EU citizens, wants a consent-based definition of rape to be the standard throughout Europe. This is in line with the language of the Istanbul Convention, which is now 15 years old, but was only recently ratified by the EU after years of stalemate," said Camille Butin for IPPF EN. "Now we strongly urge the EU institutions to adopt ambitious and robust final wording that truly centres the objective of the Directive, which is to help combat violence against women and uphold gender equality in Europe. In particular, we call on Member States to find the political will to take effective action against rape, after they failed to back a consent-based definition in their recent preliminary position," added Butin. IPPF EN welcomes MEPs' backing today of the following vital amendments to the original draft Directive: Addition of criminalisation of sexual assault, genital mutilation of intersex people and forced sterilisation. MEPs also backed the criminalisation of female genital mutilation and various forms of online violence. Inclusion of full range of sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion care, in support services for victims of sexual violence. Robust wording on including comprehensive sexuality and relationship education in gender-based violence prevention measures. This requires EU countries to increase awareness of the concept of consent, promote gender equality and challenge harmful gender stereotypes, particularly working with men and boys. Clear focus on intersectionality in wording on discrimination faced by victims of gender-based violence, including LGBTIQ people. IPPF EN regrets MEPs’ decision to replace the wording ‘women sex workers’ with ‘women in prostitution’ as sex workers themselves perceive this term as demeaning and linked with criminality. IPPF EN stands with sex workers, and rejects stigmatisation that has devastating consequences for them. The next step in this legislative process will be for the European Parliament and Council to negotiate on the basis of their preliminary positions in order to reach agreement on the final text of the Directive.  Media contact : Camille Butin, Advocacy Advisor, [email protected] --- *14 EU Member States still have laws with outdated definitions of rape based on use of force or the threat of force by the perpetrator, as opposed to absence of consent by the victim. These laws fail to meet international human rights standards, including the 2008 Istanbul Convention, to which the EU recently acceded. They ignore the realities that many survivors face in the context of rape, overlook the fact that a person can rape without using physical force or violence, and enable significant impunity for perpetrators.

Abortion is Healthcare illustration
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| 14 June 2023

IPPF demands reform of the UK Abortion Act 1967 to decriminalize abortion

A judge in England has sentenced a mother-of-three to 28 months in prison for using abortion medication to end her pregnancy. This sentencing represents a violation of human rights and highlights the urgent need for the reform of legislation and for the decriminalization of abortion across the UK.   The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is outraged by the decision to send a woman to jail for ending her own pregnancy and calls for the decriminalization of abortion to enable women and pregnant people to exercise their human right to reproductive autonomy, free from the threat of criminal prosecution.      In Britain, the number of women and girls facing police investigations and the threat of a prison sentence under current abortion laws has risen over the past three years. Despite significant public support for abortion rights and increasing recognition of abortion as essential healthcare, England, Scotland, and Wales still rely on an abortion law that is more than 50 years old, and which is underpinned by a criminal law dating back to 1861. This law is wildly out of date, out of step with public opinion, and is behind other countries which have moved towards extending and protecting abortion rights.    Dr Alvaro Bermejo, Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, said:  "The decision to hand-down a 28-month prison sentence to a woman for ending her own pregnancy is appalling and a step-back for women's health and rights in the UK. Abortion is healthcare and should not be included in criminal law.   "One in three women in Britain will have an abortion in their lifetime. We need abortion policies and care that are supportive of every woman according to her unique needs and circumstances.  No woman should ever face criminal charges or the threat of jail for seeking abortion care.   "IPPF fully supports the urgent reform of the abortion law and calls for the decriminalization of abortion.”     Maïté Matos Ichaso, Director of Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF), the only global fund dedicated to abortion, hosted by IPPF, said:  “As a global Fund dedicated to abortion, we see the devastating impact of abortion criminalisation on a daily basis. Across the world, women are languishing in prison for choosing to end their pregnancies, but also for experiencing miscarriages. The very threat of criminalisation looms large and adds to the existing stigma and barriers people face in accessing safe abortion care. Our grantee partners regularly report raids and prosecutions, not only of those seeking abortion care but also of the doctors and nurses who seek to support them.   Abortion needs to be decriminalised across the UK, as well as around the world, if we really want to see the right to safe reproductive health care respected and protected.”  IPPF has signed a joint position statement with partners including the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health, calling on the UK government to reform the Abortion Act 1967 to decriminalize people seeking to end their own pregnancies. To read the full statement please click here.   IPPF will continue to work tirelessly to protect the rights of all people around the globe to access abortion care and ensure that women will not be forced to carry a pregnancy or give birth against their will.  Note on language - Within this statement we use the terms women and women’s health. However, not only people who identify as women need access to abortion care and this statement is inclusive of all people who can become pregnant, including intersex people, transgender men and boys, and people with other gender identities that may have the reproductive capacity to become pregnant and an abortion.   Header illustration by Tanya Shyika, The Greats

Abortion is Healthcare illustration
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| 13 June 2023

IPPF demands reform of the UK Abortion Act 1967 to decriminalize abortion

A judge in England has sentenced a mother-of-three to 28 months in prison for using abortion medication to end her pregnancy. This sentencing represents a violation of human rights and highlights the urgent need for the reform of legislation and for the decriminalization of abortion across the UK.   The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is outraged by the decision to send a woman to jail for ending her own pregnancy and calls for the decriminalization of abortion to enable women and pregnant people to exercise their human right to reproductive autonomy, free from the threat of criminal prosecution.      In Britain, the number of women and girls facing police investigations and the threat of a prison sentence under current abortion laws has risen over the past three years. Despite significant public support for abortion rights and increasing recognition of abortion as essential healthcare, England, Scotland, and Wales still rely on an abortion law that is more than 50 years old, and which is underpinned by a criminal law dating back to 1861. This law is wildly out of date, out of step with public opinion, and is behind other countries which have moved towards extending and protecting abortion rights.    Dr Alvaro Bermejo, Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, said:  "The decision to hand-down a 28-month prison sentence to a woman for ending her own pregnancy is appalling and a step-back for women's health and rights in the UK. Abortion is healthcare and should not be included in criminal law.   "One in three women in Britain will have an abortion in their lifetime. We need abortion policies and care that are supportive of every woman according to her unique needs and circumstances.  No woman should ever face criminal charges or the threat of jail for seeking abortion care.   "IPPF fully supports the urgent reform of the abortion law and calls for the decriminalization of abortion.”     Maïté Matos Ichaso, Director of Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF), the only global fund dedicated to abortion, hosted by IPPF, said:  “As a global Fund dedicated to abortion, we see the devastating impact of abortion criminalisation on a daily basis. Across the world, women are languishing in prison for choosing to end their pregnancies, but also for experiencing miscarriages. The very threat of criminalisation looms large and adds to the existing stigma and barriers people face in accessing safe abortion care. Our grantee partners regularly report raids and prosecutions, not only of those seeking abortion care but also of the doctors and nurses who seek to support them.   Abortion needs to be decriminalised across the UK, as well as around the world, if we really want to see the right to safe reproductive health care respected and protected.”  IPPF has signed a joint position statement with partners including the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health, calling on the UK government to reform the Abortion Act 1967 to decriminalize people seeking to end their own pregnancies. To read the full statement please click here.   IPPF will continue to work tirelessly to protect the rights of all people around the globe to access abortion care and ensure that women will not be forced to carry a pregnancy or give birth against their will.  Note on language - Within this statement we use the terms women and women’s health. However, not only people who identify as women need access to abortion care and this statement is inclusive of all people who can become pregnant, including intersex people, transgender men and boys, and people with other gender identities that may have the reproductive capacity to become pregnant and an abortion.   Header illustration by Tanya Shyika, The Greats

Woman and daughter being supported
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| 09 June 2023

IPPF EN condemns Member States' failure to back EU action against rape

Today the EU Council agreed a preliminary position on the European Commission’s bold proposal for an EU Directive to Combat Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. IPPF EN deeply regrets that the Council’s General Approach reveals a decision by Member States to cut from the draft law a requirement for all EU countries to criminalise rape using a strong and harmonised definition based on the absence of consent by the victim*. The progressive definition in the European Commission’s proposal was fully aligned with the Istanbul Convention, to which the EU recently acceded after years of stalling by national governments. "Women, girls and minorities across the EU face widespread sexual violence, and this goes largely unpunished. It is inexcusable that the Council has today failed to find the political will to take effective action against rape. Member States are jeopardising a unique opportunity for the EU to adopt a law that guarantees equal rights for all women and girls to access justice and live safe from sexual violence," says Camille Butin for IPPF EN. Member States and the European Parliament will need to reach an agreement on the final text of the Directive in the coming months. MEPs are expected to support the European Commission’s proposal to harmonise the criminalisation of rape.

Woman and daughter being supported
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| 09 June 2023

IPPF EN condemns Member States' failure to back EU action against rape

Today the EU Council agreed a preliminary position on the European Commission’s bold proposal for an EU Directive to Combat Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. IPPF EN deeply regrets that the Council’s General Approach reveals a decision by Member States to cut from the draft law a requirement for all EU countries to criminalise rape using a strong and harmonised definition based on the absence of consent by the victim*. The progressive definition in the European Commission’s proposal was fully aligned with the Istanbul Convention, to which the EU recently acceded after years of stalling by national governments. "Women, girls and minorities across the EU face widespread sexual violence, and this goes largely unpunished. It is inexcusable that the Council has today failed to find the political will to take effective action against rape. Member States are jeopardising a unique opportunity for the EU to adopt a law that guarantees equal rights for all women and girls to access justice and live safe from sexual violence," says Camille Butin for IPPF EN. Member States and the European Parliament will need to reach an agreement on the final text of the Directive in the coming months. MEPs are expected to support the European Commission’s proposal to harmonise the criminalisation of rape.

Justyna ADT
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| 14 March 2023

Poland: IPPF EN is appalled by the guilty verdict in the case of Justyna Wydrzyńska

Today, the District Court in Warsaw found Justyna Wydrzyńska guilty for helping a woman in an abusive relationship to access abortion pills. She was sentenced to eight months of community service for 30 hours/month and will now have a criminal record. "We are deeply saddened by the decision and outraged by the entire process. Condemning a person for an act of empathy and compassion towards another human being is unconceivable. We are in awe of Justyna’s bravery in the face of 18 months of judicial persecution by an apparatus targeting anyone who dares challenge the state’s immoral attacks on healthcare and human rights", said Irene Donadio of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network (IPPF EN).

Justyna ADT
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| 14 March 2023

Poland: IPPF EN is appalled by the guilty verdict in the case of Justyna Wydrzyńska

Today, the District Court in Warsaw found Justyna Wydrzyńska guilty for helping a woman in an abusive relationship to access abortion pills. She was sentenced to eight months of community service for 30 hours/month and will now have a criminal record. "We are deeply saddened by the decision and outraged by the entire process. Condemning a person for an act of empathy and compassion towards another human being is unconceivable. We are in awe of Justyna’s bravery in the face of 18 months of judicial persecution by an apparatus targeting anyone who dares challenge the state’s immoral attacks on healthcare and human rights", said Irene Donadio of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network (IPPF EN).