CROATIA  – Activists rally behind woman denied an abortion 

BANNER: Fight like a woman

A group of activists in Croatia demonstrated on 6 May 2022 outside the parliament building in Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, in support of a woman who was denied an abortion when she was more than 20 weeks pregnant – after doctors informed her that the fetus had a brain tumour and no chance of a normal life.

The activists demanded that the authorities help Miranda Cavajda and ensure abortion rights are respected in the socially conservative country. She said doctors refused to terminate the pregnancy and advised her to seek the procedure in neighbouring Slovenia instead.

A medical ethics commission is reviewing Cavajda’s case. The case has rekindled a years-long debate about abortion in Croatia, a member of the European Union. Abortions are legal and allowed after the 10th week of pregnancy if there are serious health risks to the woman or the fetus.

Croatian media reported that doctors said they were unsure of the procedural regulations for ending such an advanced pregnancy. The existing law that permits abortions dates back to 1978, when the country was part of the Communist-run former Yugoslavia. Croatia became an independent country in 1991, and since then increasingly influential conservative groups have tried to get abortion banned.

President Zoran Milanovic on Wednesday described Cavajda’s ordeal as an example of “conservative regression.”

Activists at Friday’s demonstration demanded punishment for the medical professionals who denied Cavajda an abortion. An open letter read at the protest said her situation “is the fight of every woman. We are sorry we live in a state which puts someone’s beliefs before the dignity, health and life of women and children,” the letter read. “We stand here united in solidarity.”

SOURCES: Euro News, by Associated Press, 6 May 2022 ; AlJazeera: 27 May 2021, PHOTO Darko Bandic/AP International Women’s Day 8 March 2019 demonstration, Zagreb.