Zagreb, Croatia (May 20, 2017)
Activists speaking out for women’s rights, specifically regarding access to safe and legal abortion services organised a series of actions in the wake of the so-called “March for life” in the capital of Croatia, Zagreb. Actions were organised to highlight the real intentions of the conservative-led gatherings and warned that this walk had nothing to do with the preservation of life but rather, one that has an agenda to restrict abortion accessibility and to make it illegal.
Furthermore, activists emphasized that criminalizing abortion–the ultimate goal of the “March for life”– does not mean that there will be no more abortions. It only means that abortions will be clandestine and will endanger women’s lives and their reproductive health.
Although abortion is legal in Croatia, it is unavailable. High prices, objection of conscience and abortion stigma are some of the many obstacles women must face when trying to access this health service and human right. The following are some of the demands made by the Platform for Women’s Reproductive Rights:
- Legal, accessible, safe and free abortion.
- Accessible and free contraception and adequate comprehensive sexuality education based on facts.
- The abatement of the instrument of the objection of conscience.
- Family, demographic and social policies that enable women to make safe and free decisions about child-bearing, family planning and their sexual lives.
In 1991, a group of conservatives linked to pro-choice activists filed a claim to the Constitutional Court. They were and still are arguing that the Abortion law that dates all the way back to 1978 is unconstitutional because the article 21 of the Constitution states that “Every human being has a right to life.” According to the law mentioned above, abortion is available upon the tenth week of pregnancy, on demand. Now, in 2017, Croatia has a conservative Government, and the conservative anti-choice groups have gained more power than ever. The Constitutional Court made a decision and said that the Parliament has to bring a new law on abortion in force in the timespan of the next two years. They have suggested that there should be counselling before an abortion and have mentioned “education.” Abortion has not been banned on a Constitutional level, but the issue is being raised and has polarised the Croatian public. Conservative groups have been working hard since 2014 and have managed to mobilise an impressive number of people.