The Media Center held a discussion entitled “Sex-Selective Abortions Will Be Banned: What Effect Will the Law Have?” The speakers included: Gayane Avagyan, Head of Maternity and Reproductive Health Care Division of MOH; Garik Hayrapetyan, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Assistant Representative; Vahan Asatryan, Head of Research and Development Department at International Center for Human Development; and Tatevik Aghabekyan, Program Manager at the Women's Resource Center.
The government adopted a law which intends to envisage a punishment for sex-selective abortions. The law on Reproductive Health and Reproductive Rights has completely revised Article 10 of the existing law and clearly defined the ban on sex selective abortion.
“A woman may have an abortion before 12 week but there has not been a provision on submitting an application so far. The current law specifies a written application must be filed,” Gayane Avagyan said. “A woman is given three calendar days to think over the consequences of an abortion and her next steps. Meanwhile the doctor must consult the woman and provide psychological, social consulting and try to reveal the causes for an abortion.”
Garik Hayrapetyan said the UN 2011 research shows the issue is multilevel and it is the mentality of the society that often causes problems.
“I am happy that over past three years we managed to reach a situation when the problem was detected and comprehended and certain steps were taken to fight the phenomenon whilst in some countries it takes 15-20 years to detect the problem and then start taking measures,” Hayrapetyan said.
Armenia ranks the third following China and Azerbaijan in the list of countries with an imbalanced male/female ratio. “By contrast, the country’s 2012 birth ratio of 114 boys for every 100 girls stands as the third highest in the world, after neighboring Azerbaijan, at 116, and China, at 118, according to the United Nations Population Fund,” Hayrapetyan said.
Tatevik Aghabekyan prioritized people’s mentality in achieving changes.
“Why should everyone make such great efforts to have a boy baby and they can even abort numerous girl babies only to have one boy baby? I hope the Government will launch some programs and the Education Ministry will show willingness to take some steps in this regard,” Aghabekyan said.
Vahan Asatryan said health experts must inform the pregnant woman, her family and relatives about the law in advance.
“There are a lot of activities to be carried out with the medical staff, as well as government programs and support mechanisms. Capacity-building trainings must be conducted for specialists. We may very well expect positive changes but the law also has dangers. Any restriction on liberal abortion laws can bring about risks. A woman may opt for an unsafe abortion which is the shortest way to maternal mortality,” Asatryan said.
Avagyan said medical papers must document the pre and post abortion consultancies. “Our colleagues, gynecologists are not criminals. I hope they will respect the law and obey it. After all, abortion is not a one-person decision – there are analyses and dates fixed,” Avagyan said.
Lilit Arakelyan, Editor-Coordinator
Please contact the author at [email protected]