Should Azerbaijan adopt law on “Reproductive health and family planning”? – INVESTIGATION

Should Azerbaijan adopt law on “Reproductive health and family planning”? – <font color=red>INVESTIGATION  </font>
# 22 December 2008 13:21 (UTC +04:00)
The parliamentarians were divided into two groups while discussing the bill. Those who are against it say artificial insemination, surrogate mother (woman aged 18-35 gestating the unborn child) and sperm donors envisaged in the bill contradict national mentality. Those who support the adoption of the bill consider that it will prevent divorce and infertility.

“There is a need to adopt the bill serving to protect motherhood”

Head of the working group preparing the bill, MP Malahat Hasanova told APA that much work had been done in the country to protect women health, prevent maternal and infant death.
“There is no demographic danger in Azerbaijan now,” Hasanova said.
She said the issue on reproductive health is on the agenda, because AIDS has been declared pandemic in the whole world.
“HIV, AIDS is understood as a global threat in all countries. You know that this disease is spread more as a result of sexual intercourse. This disease has increased in Azerbaijan within recent two years. As of December 1, there are 1771 AIDS-infected people in the country. The great majority of AIDS-infected people were foreigners before, but now the carriers are mostly locals. 70 percent of the infected people are young. Genital, breast and uterine cancer has increased by three times in the whole world. Breast cancer has also increased by three times in Azerbaijan. 32 in every 10,000 women suffer uterine cancer. All this make reproductive health urgent,” she said.

The parliamentarian said that the death rate for women giving birth is more than those who died during wars. World Health Organization reports that every year 500,000 women die in childbirth. A mother dies in childbirth every minute. There are some problems concerning maternal death in Azerbaijan, too. Infant death is a serious problem in the world and Azerbaijan. Measures should be taken to prevent these problems in the world by 2015-2020. According to Malahat Hasanova discussion of the issue on reproductive health shows how important the woman health is for the state and nation. As regards the points in the bill causing disagreement, the parliamentarian said:
“A woman’s gestating the child for nine months may cause other problems. A woman may become a “surrogate mother” for a family from Shirvan, then for a family from Aghstafa or Gandja. There is a great possibility that these children will marry one day. Though we do not want to believe, these children are considered half brothers and sisters.”
The infertility makes up 13 percent in the country. If the infertility makes up 15 percent in a country, it is considered a serious danger. That’s why protection of reproductive health means protection of infertility. I think that there is a need to adopt the bill serving to protect motherhood,” she said.

Over 140 countries have adopted the law on reproductive health. Though the term “surrogate mother” appeared in Europe, the issue of “surrogate mother” has not been legalized in a number of European countries, including England and France. This law has not been adopted in Turkey, Malaysia and Iran as it contradicts Islam.
Malahat Hasanova says there are women in Azerbaijani regions that have had abortion 40 times.
“They have no opportunity, and some gynecologists see every patient as a source of money. Contraceptives are bought at the government expenses in Iran, Turkey and Europe. For example, in Turkey the government distributes these contraceptives free to the family planning centers,” she said.

The parliamentarian said family planning is also reflected in Islam.
“According to our religion, a child should be breastfed up to the age of two, this delays pregnancy and mother gives birth to a child after three years. Our Prophet was asked why women suffered frequent pregnancies. He said men should find a solution to it,” she said.

Hasanova said there were 30 family planning centers in the country and mentioned that Health Ministry prepared a national strategy on reproductive health in Azerbaijan covering 2006-2015.
“If there is a state policy on reproductive health, why shouldn’t it have legislative base,” she said.

Hasanova said participants of Karabakh war frequently faced with the problem of childlessness and donorship considered in the law could be used partly as the war was not ended yet. “There are young people who faced with hard surgery operations and threatened with the childlessness and the doctors propose to save their sperms. It can be implemented in some forms without distortions and other aims”.

“Islam prohibits transfer of embryo from body to other one”

Imam of the Icheri Sheher (Old City) Friday Mosque Haji Surkhay Mammadli told APA that he is against such a law. “Holy Koran, Islamic culture and ethics prohibit transferring of embryo from body to other one, because it violates the genealogical structure. If Allah wills to give a child to someone, the child will be born. The child, born as a result of artificial insemination or other methods, can not contribute to the nation, state and society, because his generation is unknown”.

Mammadli negatively reacted to the discussion of the draft law and doesn’t agree with the idea that it will prevent various diseases among the women. “The people face with the inadmissible diseases because of their nasty life style. Spread of AIDS among the young people in Azerbaijan in recent years created disgraceful situation. It means that the religious consciousness and religious evolution are not formed in Azerbaijan. Rejection of perfect moral provided by the religion creates very big problems. Today Azerbaijani youth is paralyzed because instead of taking advantages from the religion, from Islam, Azerbaijani young people show interest to the sexual and heritable games played in Europe. Undoubtedly the young people with such life style will face with this kind of diseases, which will damage the genealogy of Azerbaijan”.

Artificial insemination costs 4000 AZN in Azerbaijan

Chief of the Baku General Healthcare Office Leila Seyidbayova said despite that the progressive law on the “Protection of the population’s health” was adopted in 1997 it didn’t meet existing realities now. Seyidbayova said childlessness became wide-spread problem in the country in recent years and we needed to adopt a law on the “Protection of reproductive health and family planning”. Concerning the protests against the “surrogate mother”, the office chief said, this issue was legalized in many countries. “There are women, whose and husband’s cells are healthy, but they can not keep a baby in a womb till the end. We would like to solve this problem legally within a law. There are women who can participate in this process. Therefore we intend to adopt a law to prevent crimes in this case. There were some criminal, even deadly cases. We made proposals to prevent such cases and it is a job of the parliament to adopt it or not”.

Leila Seyidbayova said the relevant law would solve a number of problems. She said there were many applications for an artificial insemination, which result sometimes unsuccessfully. “The artificial insemination costs 4000 AZN, which makes the poor people unable to apply for it. The healthy people are going abroad to solve this problem. Totally 5-6 people a year apply for the artificial insemination in Azerbaijan”.

“They intend to drag Azerbaijan to “Holland syndrome” with this law”

Member of the Parliament Fazail Agamali, who expressed strong dissent to this law at the parliament, told APA that this law doesn’t coincide with the realities of Azerbaijan and there is no need in its adoption. “The artificial insemination is far from the Azerbaijani mentality and this law will damage on the Azerbaijan’s national background”. Agamali said the problems of childlessness were resolved in Azerbaijan by the unique methods. “The childless family adopts a child from their relatives, familiars or from the orphan homes. There are such families, where a couple divorced and married with other peoples to have children, or there are such big-heart women, who allowed their husbands to marry again”.

The member of the parliament said they intended to drag Azerbaijan to “Holland syndrome” with this law. “At this rate they will submit a law, which I wouldn’t like to mention, and demand to protect rights of men with a skirt staying at the Tbilisi Avenue. We are Azerbaijanis and can not wear the English dresses or Scotland Gael. I am telling to the supporters of this law: “Be reasonable! Don’t trample our traditions formed through thousands of years”.

To Agamali, the bill is against the national mentality: “Laws are not coincided with life style of immoral persons. Several people become pregnant before marriage and are unable to give birth after 2-3 abortions. Have these people any relation with the society? If some cannot adapt with current condition of Azerbaijan, let them live in Europe, France”, he said.
MP considers that crimes will be increased after adoption of law and there will be fatherless, motherless children. Can you imagine that which condition will be in Azerbaijan after 10 years. The origin of donor parent will be unknown whether he is Armenian, Georgian, or Negro”, he said.

Several families, people need this law

Sadagat Gahramanova, Deputy Chairman of State Committee on Family, Women and Children’s Issues told APA that it was high time to approve law on protection of reproductive health and family planning.

“There is divergence of opinion on artificial insemination. But this is a science and progress of science and it has already been realized and it is impossible to prevent it. The law aims to regulate breach of laws, while solving problems” she said.
Gahramanova did not agree to opoinions that the law was against the national values.
“If we speak about artificial insemination and donor parent, we do not speak about violation of national values. There is a foster mother in our hidtory. Everybody knows that mother in rich families does not suckle her child and gave him or her to another woman having string milk”, she added. There are families and people, who need this law.

“We speak about families that have problems. Our religion allows transplantation of organs of animal for health of human. There is nothing against our national value and religion. It is my position. The Parliament sounds such proposals that if women have problems with child birth, let’s raise law on polygamy. Men have more problems …
We should approach to law on protection of reproductive health and family planning not from our prism, but from common prism,” she said.
Gahramanova considers that the law will prevent crimes.
“If the law is adopted, several agreements are achieved, everybody knows his rights, there will not be crime”, she said.