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A Closer Look at Reproductive Rights in Moldova

On September 23, 2010, the Center co-hosted a roundtable discussion with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Institute for Human Rights (IDOM) in Chisinau, Moldova on Reproductive Rights: Opportunities and Constraints in the Republic of Moldova. The roundtable included discussion on Moldova’s international human rights commitments and gaps in its compliance. It highlighted issues such as maternal mortality, family planning, abortion, and introducing mandatory sexuality education in schools.

Attendees of the roundtable included the Minister of Health, Vladimir Hotineanu, representatives from the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Justice and related government agencies.  Various United Nations offices also participated, as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) focusing on human rights, youth health clinic representatives, and journalists from local media. The Center presented on international human rights standards on family planning, abortion, and sexuality education.  Information was also presented on our case, Z v Moldova, pending at the European Court of Human Rights.

The Moldovan Ministry of Health presented on its work on addressing human rights in its health policies, including abortion. The UN Human Rights Representative spoke of human rights obligations, and UNFPA representatives presented on the discriminatory and unlawful mandatory HIV testing requirements before marriage in Moldova.  The director of the Reproductive Health Training Center, Dr. Rodica Commendant, addressed the reasons behind the rising maternal mortality rate in Moldova.

From the discussion, key issue points were formulated highlighting the changes needed in sexual and reproductive rights improvements and policy initiatives within Moldova. The points of concern are:

  • A lack of data indicators on sexual and reproductive health collected regularly, including disaggregated data on on vulnerable groups;
  • A lack of public mandatory, non-judgmental, evidence-based sexuality education in schools;
  • A lack of affordable contraceptives and reproductive health services;
  • Parental consent requirements on abortion (this prevents adolescents from accessing safe abortion);
  • Reporting illegal abortion—the recommendation is to cancel the requirement put on doctors to report suspicion of illegal abortion to authorities;
  • Eliminating mandatory testing requirements before marriage;
  • Continued gender stereotypes in the health system and other areas, including media;
  • The Stigmatization of women who have had an abortion in the in the media and healthcare system.

There was an additional discussion on the “future demographic crisis” in Moldova with an emphasis on improving and adopting measures that will support gender equality in education, work, and family life. These key issue points are being used to create a fothcoming action plan, by organizers together with the Ministry of Health,  to improve the discussed areas within reproductive health and human rights in Moldova.