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The parliamentary committee rejected the petition banning abortions

On September 9, the RA NA Standing Committee on Health and Social Affairs discussed the petition submitted to the parliament by “VARDANYAN @ PARTNERS” legal organization on the ban on abortions for the protection of the right to life of the unborn child.


According to the procedure, the committee had to express its position on the issue of the bill “On the Right to Life of the Unborn Child” proposed by the petition, on the issue of circulating the package of draft laws on making relevant amendments to a number of laws in the National Assembly.


The authors of the petition are lawyers Nerses Isajanyan, Varuzhan Vardanyan and Vahe Simonyan, who noted that in a number of European countries the approaches to the issue are different, and Armenia does not recognize the rights to life and dignity of the unborn child.


The petition mainly proposes to ban all types of abortions in our country, regardless of the period of pregnancy and medical or social indications for abortion.


Nerses Isajanyan, one of the petitioners, speaking about the package of changes, emphasized that it refers to the status of the unborn child or fetus. “We submitted the petition because we thought that it is relevant for Armenia at the moment for at least two reasons: the first is that the ideological basis on which our legislation is built can be said to be illegal, secondly, there are grounds to think that they do not reflect the mood of our society, the value system of our people.


Gayane Avagyan, Head of the Department of Maternal and Rehabilitation Health of the Ministry of Health, was also invited to the discussion. In her speech, the latter expressed a negative opinion on the petition, noting: “In fact, the petition proposes a ban on abortions in Armenia, in case of all kinds of abortions, even rape, genital injuries, fetal defects, we seem to be going back to the 40s and 50s. “The world has moved forward. Today there are many international abortion laws and conventions, many of which Armenia has joined, signed and is committed to.”


Gayane Avagyan listed all the international conventions, laws that Armenia has adopted, which refer to women’s reproductive rights and health. According to her, women’s rights, including the right to abortion, are enshrined in the World Health Organization (WHO), of which Armenia is a member.


“In some countries, where there is a sharp rise in populism, the situation with abortions is deteriorating. The ultra-conservative forces, which have an agenda of women’s autonomy and control over their health, are trying to force their fundamentalist views on gender roles in both the public and private sectors. One of their tactics is to force women to go underground for abortion through abortion bans. “Contributing to the deterioration of women’s reproductive health by increasing mortality,” the official quoted.


Karine Saribekyan, an associate professor at the National Institute of Health, expressed an opinion during the discussion that it is a fact that Armenia is a member of the UN, the conventions adopted by the National Assembly are above the national legislation. “We have suggested that if you think that the precedent decisions of the European Court can be a basis for changing the international convention, then we should start with their changes.”


The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for the last two years state that if a pregnancy occurs before the 12th week in the proper conditions, it has no negative consequences for a woman’s health.


Georgy Okoyev, director of the Center for Maternal and Child Health, said in his speech that he did not agree with the views expressed that Armenia does not protect the unborn child. “Armenia allocates enough money to treat the risk of abortion. That is, an attempt is made to save the life of a being. From 22 weeks of pregnancy, the fetus weighing 500 grams is already registered. A lot of money is spent on these children, the children stay in medical institutions for months. It is impossible to imagine that we are in favor of abortion, but we are against saying it right away. Absolutely banning everything will lead to a protective reaction, increase out-of-hospital abortions. It will definitely increase. You just have to get a woman pregnant if she wants to give birth. We will not achieve it with obstacles, we will achieve it by working and explaining.”


MP Lusine Badalyan said that if this petition is adopted as a bill, it will never be possible to control illegal abortions, because if a woman wants to have an abortion, she can do it in another country where it is allowed. “No one can force a woman to terminate her unwanted pregnancy. I am against abortions, but that is a fact. Not to mention a number of suicides or suicide attempts. And those who do not have the opportunity to have an abortion in other countries will do so in the basement, with very bad specialists. My question is, have you found the solution to the consequences that in the case of prohibited abortions there may be maternal mortality? “Because if we legislate that abortion will be banned, we do not know what will happen, if the abortion is performed underground, what will happen to those women?”


As a result of the discussion that lasted for about two hours, the representatives of the RA Ministry of Health and the sphere generally did not consider the changes proposed in the package acceptable. The committee, after hearing the views of the parties, decided to reject the proposal to put the package into circulation.


After the discussion, Naira Zohrabyan, Chairwoman of the NA Standing Committee on Human Rights Protection and Public Affairs, reaffirmed on her Facebook page the position expressed in a conversation with WomenNet.am that the right to life of an unborn child should be regulated by Armenian legislation.


Full text in Armenian

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