The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women this week is expected to finalize and release a draft report that says the Czech Republic government has not completely answered allegations that more than 80 Roma, or Gypsy, women from 1986 through 2004 were sterilized in the country without informed consent, the Christian Science Monitor reports.
Forced sterilizations of Roma women also have been reported in Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, according to the Monitor (White, Christian Science Monitor, 9/6).
A 2003 report from the Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Center for Reproductive Rights cited 110 cases of Roma women who claim to have been forcibly sterilized since 1989 in state hospitals in eastern Slovakia because of widespread prejudice and fear against the Roma population.
Despite the long history of forced sterilization in the region, Slovakian officials had denied the report's findings of acts of intimidation, and physicians denied sterilizing patients (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 3/7/03).
The U.N. report comes after the December 2005 release of a Czech Public Defender of Rights report on the cases that said the charges against the government were justified and called on the government to revise its policy on sterilization and compensating people forced to undergo such procedures.
According to the Monitor, the U.N. committee plans to call for similar legislative changes.
Many of the cases involve Roma women giving birth for the second time by caesarean section who were told by physicians - often minutes before delivery - that a tubal ligation was necessary to avoid a third pregnancy and c-section, the Monitor reports.
Some of the women say they falsely were told that the procedure was reversible.
The health ministry said it is investigating the cases.
A ministry spokesperson said that Roma women were not singled out for sterilization and that charges of sterilization without consent in recent years are "misleading and without merit."
An Ostrava, Czech Republic, court in 2005 was the first court in the country to rule against a hospital in a sterilization case, saying physicians failed to obtain consent in the 2001 sterilization of Helena Ferencikova.
The hospital, which was ordered to apologize, is appealing the ruling (Christian Science Monitor, 9/6).
This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.