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Opposition Lawmakers Drop Plans For Anti-Abortion Bill


Armenia - The Prosperous Armenia Party's mayoral candidate Naira Zohrabian speaks at an election campaign rally in Yerevan, 21 September 2018.

Citing strong objections from civil society members, two opposition parliamentarians have abandoned plans to introduce legislation that would ban abortions in Armenia except in cases of medical emergency.

Naira Zohrabian of the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) announced last week that she and fellow BHK deputy Shake Isayan will circulate a “draft law on unborn children’s right to life” in the coming days. Zohrabian cited a large number of abortions carried out in the country. She said the bill is also necessary for tackling the chronic problem of gender-based selective abortions.

Health experts and civic activists strongly objected to the proposed ban. They argued, among other things, that Armenian law already prohibits selective abortions.

Zohrabian complained about critics’ “attacks” but sought to distance herself from the bill on Monday. She said that it was drafted and put forward by “several pro-governmental organizations.”

Zohrabian, who also heads the Armenian parliament committee on human rights, said she and Isayan decided not to press for the bill’s passage by the National Assembly because other NGOs came up with “substantiated” arguments against the proposed ban.

According to Zohrabian, parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan recently forwarded the same bill to a parliament committee on public health and social affairs after receiving it from the same authors. Most members of the committee spoke out against banning abortions, she wrote on Facebook.

Abortion has been legal in Armenia since Soviet times. Armenian law currently allows the procedure during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

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