More than 10,000 official abortions in Serbia each year

Nearly 20 million women in Europe lack access to safe abortion rights. In Serbia, approximately 10,000 such procedures are officially performed annually, with intentional pregnancy termination most commonly occurring in the 35 to 44 age group.

Tea Dautzenberg, an activist from the My Voice, My Choice Initiative, stated to FoNet that almost 20 million women in Europe lack the right to safe abortion. This has led to a petition advocating for EU citizens to have the ability to obtain an abortion for free in another member state if they cannot access it in their own country.

In a series of The Stigma Conversations, she specified that the initiative was launched in Slovenia by the organization Institute 8th of March, and efforts to gather one million signatures have since expanded to other EU member states. If these signatures are submitted to European institutions and the European Parliament votes in favor, Dautzenberg explains that citizens of countries like Poland or Malta, where abortion is illegal, could safely and legally have an abortion in an EU member state where it is permitted. She emphasized that in such cases, the procedure would be funded by European money, and the countries agreeing to provide this service would receive funds from EU budgets.

Unacceptable situation

It is unacceptable for the women to bear the financial burden of abortion, which is not free. It is also unacceptable that women are forced to travel thousands of kilometers or seek unsafe alternatives because gynecologists, due to conscientious objections, refuse to perform abortions, as outlined by the My Voice, My Choice initiative. Dautzenberg stated that for the initiative to proceed, it requires the participation of seven EU member states with a specific number of signatures proportional to their population. She emphasized that since April, half a million signatures have been collected. Progress in Slovenia and Croatia is positive, especially with singer Severina joining the cause. However, the initiative faces challenges in Belgium compared to strong support in Germany and France. The original plan was to gather signatures by the European elections on June 9th, but unfortunately, this did not happen. Dautzenberg is confident that they will achieve their goal slightly later.

Is abortion paid for in Serbia?

In Serbia, abortion procedures are regulated by the Law on Termination of Pregnancy in Health Institutions. According to this law, every gynecological clinic in Serbia is obligated to provide abortion services upon a woman’s personal request if she has not yet completed the tenth week of gestation.

This procedure is not covered by health insurance unless the termination is due to a justified medical reason. In state health institutions, patients typically pay between 15,000 to 17,000 dinars for the intervention, depending on additional examinations. In private clinics, the cost can exceed 300 euros.

In addition to these expenses, there are recovery costs, including prescribed antibiotics, vitamins, and other medications as recommended by the doctor following the procedure.

Pregnancy termination statistics

Despite the wide range of contraceptive methods available in Serbia, more than 10,000 abortions are officially performed annually in state institutions.

According to the Health Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Serbia for the year 2022, there were a total of 11,306 registered pregnancy terminations. Among these, 8,090 were medical abortions, 891 were spontaneous pregnancy losses, and 160 were terminations for other reasons, as reported by the Institute of Public Health Dr Milan Jovanović Batut.

Contrary to common belief that young girls are most likely to undergo abortion, the statistics suggest otherwise. Only one case of pregnancy termination was recorded in Serbia in 2022 among women under the age of 15, while one abortion was also recorded in the group of women over 55 years old. The highest number of pregnancy terminations occurred among women aged 35 to 44 years, totaling 4,276.

“This age group recorded the highest number of pregnancy terminations. Among these women, 483 (11.30%) were married, while 956 (22.36%) had an unknown marital status. The majority of terminations occurred before the tenth week of pregnancy, totaling 4,043,” stated Batut.

SPC against “infanticide”

Despite abortion being a legal procedure in Serbia, it remains a controversial issue in the society. The Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) has expressed negative views on abortion on several occasions and has advocated against it.

After the Synod in 2013, the Church stated that Serbia’s declining birth rate was due to “infanticide,” reflecting a deep moral decline, family crisis, and a lack of true faith in God among many. The Synod fathers believe that the solution lies in banning intentional abortion, except in cases of medical necessity.

Former Minister of Health Slavica Đukić Dejanović responded to the SPC’s statement, emphasizing that the issue of abortion is regulated by law: “The Serbian Orthodox Church, which I deeply respect, has the right to its views, but expertise, European and global standards we aspire to, and the mood of citizens, determine how we legislate every area, including pregnancy termination.”

 

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