ERRC Urges Compliance with Ethics Guidelines on Sterilisation
04 July 2011
Budapest, 4 July 2011: The ERRC welcomes the Ethics Guidelines on Female Contraceptive Sterilisation (Guidelines) recently published by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO). In order to assist medical professionals and Government actors in addressing the coercive sterilisation of Romani women, the ERRC distributed the Guidelines to professional unions and health ministries in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia and urged the ministries to disseminate them and to bring their laws and practices into compliance. Earlier this month, the ERRC sent a letter to three UN Special Rapporteurs (on health, torture and violence against women), urging their intervention on the issue in the three countries.
At present, the law and policy on informed consent in the Czech Republic and Hungary are not in conformance with these Guidelines. Moreover, ERRC has identified cases of coercive sterilisation as recently as 2008.
The FIGO Guidelines uphold human rights principles, stating that surgical sterilisation must be preceded by the patient’s informed and freely given consent. Information for the consent must include the fact that sterilisation should be considered irreversible and that alternatives exist such as reversible forms of family planning. FIGO also reaffirms the fact that sterilisation for prevention of future pregnancy cannot be ethically justified on grounds of medical emergency.
Robert Kushen, Executive Director of ERRC, stated that “the FIGO Guidelines represent a global consensus of experts on how to ensure that sterilisation is always voluntary. We hope that those countries with a legacy of coercive sterilisation will immediately adopt the Guidelines so that these acts of violence against women will never occur again.”
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