LITHUANIA – Minister of Health recommends keeping unwanted pregnancies: EPF responds

During the nationwide coronavirus quarantine, introduced on 16 March, healthcare institutions are no longerproviding “non-essential” services. Some healthcare institutionsin Lithuania have included abortion among these. During a press conference on 22 April 2020, when asked what women who need an abortion should do, Health Minister Aurelijus Verygasaidit could be an occasion for women to “reconsider their choice”. “I’d urge families and women to be responsible and not to use methods that are illegal or could harm their health. And in cases where clinics decide not to provide pregnancy termination services, this could be an occasion for families or women to consult once more with doctors, psychologists and use the moment to reconsider their decision, decide not to terminate pregnancy.”

Nine members of European parliaments that make up theEuropean Parliamentary Forum on Population & Development’sExecutive Committee responded with a letter on 22 April addressed to the Minister of Health, as well as to the Lithuanian President, Speaker of the Seimas,Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.The letter said:

“A lockdown is not a reason to restrict women’sand girls’reproductive rights, includingthe possibility of terminating a pregnancy. Abortion is an individual decision for each woman, which does not require the approval of politicians and, furthermore guaranteed by Lithuanian law. In these difficult times, it is improper toimposeunnecessary restrictions on women’s access to legal health care servicesparticularly when these are time sensitive.

“We therefore urge theMinister of Health of the Republic of Lithuania to respect the right of women to make autonomous decisions about their own bodies and reproductive functions, which are at the very core of their fundamental right to equality and privacy concerning intimate matters of physical and psychological integrity.”

SOURCE: EPF News, 22 April 2020 ; FULL LETTER to Lithuania,22 April 2020