In the early part of April, a group of Romanian pro-choice advocates discovered that many services for abortions on request and other ob-gyn services had been suspended in the country after a Ministry of the Interior order, due to Covid-19. On 15 April, they wrote to the Romanian Ministry of Health (MOH), calling for abortions, breastfeeding by mothers and antenatal care to be re-instated nationally as part of essential health care. On 27 April, the MOH Obstetrics & Gynaecology Commission sent a circular to all District Health Authorities, recommending the inclusion of abortion among the emergency services being provided during Covid-19, as follows:
- Women who request an abortion within the legal time limit shall have unrestricted access to a specialist consultation and medical assistance.
- If it is a surgical abortion, it shall take place only in an ambulatory clinic, separate from a hospital, and accessible without going into a hospital.
- The abortion may also be a medical abortion, as regulated by the Romanian Obstetrics and Gynaecology Guidelines and approved by the MOH.
One of the NGOs decided to monitor what was happening on the ground. They learned that the circular had not reached all the hospitals, and that most of them continued to heed the Ministry of the Interior’s order not to provide abortions. Of 60 contacted, only 31 public hospitals and 5 private hospitals/clinics were providing abortions on request. In the meantime, an online anti-abortion march was organised, aiming to discourage service provision even more, with one maternity hospital displaying typical anti-choice images.
The first (and so far only) maternity hospital to announce they were resuming abortions and other recommended services was the Sfântu Gheorghe Emergency County Hospital, who re-opened their Ob-Gyn Department as of 1 May and the ambulatory clinic as of 4 May. They told doctors to see only emergencies, deliveries, antenatal care, and abortions on request.
From Daniela Draghici, ASTRA Board member from Romania, E-mails 22 and 25 May 2020 ; Local media article (in Romanian) ; PHOTO: Sfântu Gheorghe Emergency County Hospital