Abortion Denial Row Sparks Massive Outcry In Croatia

Abortion Denial Row Sparks Massive Outcry In Croatia
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A trending heart-rending case of a woman denied an abortion by four hospitals despite the foetus having an aggressive tumour on Saturday sparked an outcry over women’s rights in largely Catholic Croatia.

Africa Daily News, New York reports that despite the procedure being legal in the European Union member, Mirela Cavajda is now being forced to have a termination in neighbouring Slovenia.

The case comes on the heel of a political storm in the United States over fears abortion rights there are being undermined, with the landmark Roe v. Wade case that guaranteed a woman’s right to choose reportedly under threat from the Supreme Court.

Abortion is equally contested in Croatia, with church groups failing in a bid to have it banned five years ago and a majority of gynaecologists refusing to perform the procedure.

Read Also: Access To Safe Abortions Important To Save Lives – WHO Chief

Cavajda was told in late April, in the sixth month of pregnancy, that her unborn child had an aggressive brain tumour.

Even if he survived birth, doctors said “he would be like a vegetable”, she told reporters through her tears.

‘I came home, sat down and stared at the wall… I made the decision in a second,’ said the 39-year-old, who already has a child.

In Croatia abortion is legal until the 10th week of pregnancy. After that it can be performed if the health of the mother or foetus is in serious danger — as in Cavajda’s case — or because of rape or incest.

However, four hospitals in the capital Zagreb refused to carry out an abortion.

One doctor asked Cavajda whether she would ‘kill a two-year-old child with a tumour’, while another labelled the procedure ‘euthanasia’.

Cavajda was also advised to cross the border to Slovenia, where at least 10 Croatian women a year in similar situations have to turn.

However, as fury about the case grew and an MRI scan showed the foetus’ condition deteriorating, a medical commission ruled that an abortion could go ahead.

Africa Daily News, New York gathered that abortion was legalised in Croatia in the 1950s and is regulated by a 1978 law passed when it was still part of Yugoslavia. But since independence in 1991, when the Catholic Church regained political clout, it has become harder to access with many doctors raising ‘consciousness objections’ to terminations.

Indeed, nearly 60 percent of gynaecologists in public hospitals refuse to perform them on moral grounds.

Africa Daily News, New York

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