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Kyrgyzstan: Reproductive Rights Now Specified by Law

(Nov. 17, 2015) On July 4, 2015, the President of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev, signed the Law on Reproductive Rights of Kyrgyz Republic Citizens. (Law of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan No. 148 on Reproductive Rights of Kyrgyz Republic Citizens (Law No. 148) (July 4, 2015), Ministry of Justice of Kyrgyz Republic website (in Russian).) This Law enumerates state obligations to protect reproductive health and regulates the provision of family planning services.

Care and Support

According to the Law, citizens are free to decide on the number of children they wish to have, the time when they are going to have them regardless of their marital status, and the birth spacing. However, these decisions must be made “in a responsible manner.” (Id. art. 9.1.) The Law points out that a woman has the right to a safe pregnancy. She can prepare for it by receiving health and medical care during the pregnancy and the labor and postpartum periods, using methods that minimize the risk to her health, the health of the fetus, and the newborn. (Id. art. 14.1)

A woman will also receive guaranteed social support from the state before and after childbirth. (Id.) At present, Kyrgyz labor legislation grants pregnant women paid maternity leave during the 70-day period before and for 56 days after child delivery. The duration of post-delivery maternity leave can be extended, depending on the medical reasons for it. (Labor Code of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, Law No. 107 (2004), art. 307, Kyrgyz State HR Service website  (in Russian).)

Medical Interventions 

The Law requires the written consent of a woman if any medical intervention is to be carried out during her pregnancy. (Law No. 148, art. 14.2.) Nobody may force a woman to become pregnant or to have an abortion. Such actions will be regarded as violence against the woman and be prosecuted under Kyrgyz law. (Id. art. 14.3.)

The Law recognizes the right to infertility treatment. Married couples have the right to use assisted reproductive technologies by mutual consent to conceive a child and have equal rights and responsibilities for the child’s nurture and upbringing. (Id. art. 15.2.)

Artificial termination of a pregnancy is allowed during the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy at the pregnant woman’s request. (Id. art.16.1.) Abortion is allowed up to 22 weeks into the pregnancy for “social reasons,” based on established standards and a commission consisting of medical and social professionals who must approve the request for an abortion. Termination is allowed at any time during the pregnancy on the basis of medical necessity. (Id.) If an abortion is requested by a minor, the consent of the parents or a legal representative is required. (Id. art. 16.3.)

Under the new Law, it is legal to use contraception in Kyrgyzstan, and individuals are free to choose the contraceptive method. (Id. art. 17.1.)

Surrogacy

The Law also allows for the use of surrogate mothers by persons who desire a child but cannot have one due to medical reasons. (Id. art. 18.1.) This method of reproduction requires a notarized contract. If the surrogate mother is married, the consent of her spouse is necessary. (Id. art. 18.2.) According to the Law, the surrogate mother must be between 20 and 40 years old, be mentally and physically healthy, have at least one biological child, and pass medical and genetic tests. (Id. art. 18.3.) Married couples who sign a contract for a surrogate motherhood bear all material costs associated with the surrogate mother’s pregnancy, labor, and postpartum period. (Id. art. 18.5.)

In the case of a stillbirth or refusal to accept the child by persons who have signed a contract with the surrogate mother, those persons may not require the surrogate mother to refund any costs relating to the payment of medical services for the surrogate mother or the amount of remuneration. (Id. art. 18.8.) Upon the birth of the child, persons who are married to each other who have signed a contract for the implantation of an embryo into another woman for gestation are recorded as the child’s parents in the civil registry. (Id. art. 18.6.) They do not have the right to give up the child before he/she is recorded as their child in the civil registry. (Id. art. 18.7.)

Sex Cell Donation, Artificial Insemination, and Sterilization

Individuals 20 to 35 years of age, who are physically and mentally healthy and who have passed medical and genetic tests, are eligible to be donors of sex cells. (Id. art. 19.) The Law also allows for the storage and use of the sex cells. Citizens who have reached marriageable age have the right to store their sex cells. (Id. art. 21.1.) If a person who has stored his or her sex cells dies, the person’s father, mother, brothers, and sisters, as well as the spouse, may retain the right to use them for future reproduction. (Id. art. 21.2.)

Methods of artificial insemination, such as embryo transfer and in vitro fertilization are also regulated by the Law. (Id. art. 20.1.) Information on the performance of the artificial insemination is confidential. (Id. art. 20.6.) It is forbidden to produce human embryos for commercial, military, industrial, and other purposes. (Id. art. 20.8.)

To prevent an unwanted pregnancy, individuals can undergo surgical sterilization. People of both genders are eligible for this procedure as long as they are of marriageable age and are aware of the consequences. (Id. art. 22.)

Reaction to the Law

Adoption of Law No. 148 was accompanied by considerable controversy and heated debates. Its opponents, who championed “traditional” and “Islamic norms,” mostly objected to the Law’s provisions on modern reproductive technologies. (Kyrgyz Law on Reproductive Rights Signed, THE ASIAN FORUM OF PARLIAMENTARIANS ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT (Aug. 18, 2015).)

Prepared by Olena Yatsunska, Law Library Foreign Law Consultant, under the supervision of Peter Roudik, Director of Legal Research.