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Croatia's MPs oppose the right to abortion even for rape victims

July 06th, 2020
topic:Abortion
by:Katarina Panić
located in:Croatia
tags:abortion, rape, Women's Reproductive Rights

The right to abortion became one of the top issues during the campaign that precedes the parliamentary election in Croatia, scheduled for July 5. Abortion is legal up to the tenth week in the youngest EU member state. Yet, it is less available because of the cost, the social stigma and medical staff's right to refuse to provide them over the reasons of conscience.

Croatia's Constitutional Court ruled three years ago that abortion cannot be prohibited by law. Now, some rightists offer a solution for that as well – to abolish the Constitutional Court if it guarantees the right to abortion, including even to raped women.

"The percentage of raped women who decide on abortions is small… Life is life. We have, for instance, testimonies of children who were conceived as a result of rape (in the 1992-5 war) in Bosnia who nevertheless managed to realise themselves as happy people…There is no calculation with life. I cannot determine who has the right to live and who has not", Nino Raspudić, a candidate for the conservative MOST party, said in a TV pre-election debate.

This statement was broadcast on June 8th, and it seems it encouraged similar voices backed by the Catholic church that profoundly influences politics in Croatia.

THE FUTURE OF THE COUNTRY WITH POLITICIANS STUCK IN THE MIDDLE AGES

"If a woman becomes pregnant after being raped, then she must agree with the family what she will do," said Miroslav Škoro, a candidate for the Homeland Movement, and one that won some 25% in the first round of the presidential election in Croatia last December.

Female candidates are not immune to barbarism either. Bruna Esih, a candidate for the Right-League, said she would always equally protect both unborn child and raped woman by giving her all support needed, except the right to abortion. She also manipulates that "all agree life begins with conception".

"I don't see any reason child has no right to live. We always debate about woman's right to chose, and I ask you what is with children's right to live. What is the difference between a child in the uterus and the person outside?", she said in a TV show. She also complained there is always "a but" following whenever she explains her attitude.

Moreover, the same coalition candidate Iva Svaguša Majčica tweeted on June 23rd that the world has gone wrong since men gave women the right to vote.

"I hope that the team will come to power and bring us back to the factory (or God’s) settings", she wrote.

"I guess the next thing on the agenda is that women can vote in consultation with (male?!) family members," Education Minister Blaženka Divjak posted on her official Facebook account.

DOGMA BEFORE WOMEN'S HEALTH

Almost no European constitution has the right to prenatal protection. Right-wing politicians, including the long-time ruling Croatian Democratic Union, insist on so-called pro-life ideology repeating that "abortion is murder" and "life needs to be defended". Women, including former president Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, responded by showing the middle finger to abortion opponents.

For the last five years, anti-abortion rallies "Walk of Life" in Croatian cities are more frequent than ever. Backed by socially conservative and religious organisations, they campaign for "protecting the lives of unborn children – the most vulnerable minority". Only two years ago, they collected 170,000 signatures in a petition calling for a ban on abortion and supporting conscientious objection by doctors. Counter-protesters led by the Platform for Women's Reproductive Rights advocate the right to accessible and free abortion, warning that "women were dying because dogma was put before their health".

In February this year Ipsos Agency conducted the survey which showed 81 per cent favour a women's right to choose abortion, 63 per cent believe this medical service should be free, and 62 per cent don't want the religious communities to interfere health policy on abortion. Croatian parliament has also been inquiring the organisations that provide anti-abortion counselling to pregnant women. The working group found out that so-called pregnancy crisis centres were spreading in Croatia as well in Europe, and that some of these pseudo-medical institutions are funded from the USA.

"I am appalled there are people who tell pregnant women that in the case of abortion, they will lose their minds and their partners will become homosexuals," said Predrag Fred Matić, the European Parliament's Rapporteur on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU.

Article written by:
Katarina Panić
Katarina Panić
Author
Croatia
Rightists to abolish the Constitutional Court if it guarantees the right to abortion, including even raped women.
Almost no European constitution has the right to prenatal protection. Croatia is not Poland, and women are not incubators, the women human rights defenders warn.
"I am appalled there are people who tell pregnant women that in the case of abortion, they will lose their minds and their partners will become homosexuals."