Officially, Croatian women can exercise the right to abortion liberally. But Croatia is a country with an active anti-abortion movement where, under pressure from the Church, few doctors are willing to implement the law. According to a study by the private television company RTL, six out of ten gynaecologists refuse to do abortions and five of the country’s 27 public hospitals also refuse.
Then there are so-called prayer groups (like in the USA, says the article) in front of hospitals with clinics that do provide abortions. But there’s more. If you look on Google in Croatia for a clinic to have an abortion, on the first line there will be an anti-abortion site with a video full of false information about secondary effects of abortion, such as breast cancer and alcoholism, not to mention sexual problems. While the Minister of Health (except for women’s health) offers a disembodied form of hope: he wants to create a text that calls for “fewer abortions and more newborns”.
Sanja Cesar, an activist with the CESI Women’s Rights Association, sees the threat of “greater difficulty in accessing abortion, with periods of waiting, biased advice to women and support for gynaecologists who refuse to practise it”. According to government statistics, the number of abortions was over 25,000 in 1993 but has fallen to only 2,416 in 2017.
Gynaecologist Jasenka Grujic, an activist for women’s rights, is concerned about the atmosphere surrounding abortion in Croatia. She attributes the fall in official numbers to the reappearance of “clandestine abortions” and the fact that many women, discouraged by all the obstacles in Croatia, now go to neighbouring Slovenia or Bosnia for abortions. “We cannot allow sex education to be put into the hands of theologians and nuns,” she says.
SOURCE: Sudouest.fr, 28 March 2019 ; PHOTO: AFP