Croatian politicians propose law severely limiting abortion

Zagreb, Croatia, February 4, 2021     

According to a new proposal of the Croatian Sovereigntists Party, abortion would be possible only in cases where the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman’s life.

The party began gathering signatures on Monday in order for Parliament to discuss the proposal, which stipulates that human life begins from the moment of conception. Instead of abortion, the Sovereigntists propose to focus rather on education, counseling, and prevention, reports Total Croatia News.

Party members have turned to all lawmakers who have identified themselves as pro-life to sign the petition. 30 signatures are needed.

Poland officially implemented last week an October ruling that similarly restricts abortion only to cases of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s life.

“This is a chance for all those who call themselves Christian Democrats to prove that they are indeed prepared to protect human life from its conception… Now we will see whether they care more about values or party discipline,” Croatian Sovereigntists leader Hrvoje Zekanović said in a statement.

The current law, which allows abortion up to 10 weeks’ gestation and in limited circumstances after that point, was adopted in 1978. Conservative elements have been working to overturn the law ever since the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991, when Croatia became an independent state. The law was amended in 2003 to give doctors the right to conscientiously object to performing abortions. In 2017, the Constitutional Court gave Parliament two years to pass a new law, though that never happened.

President Zoran Milanovićis of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union party “is so afraid of raising this issue that he did not even honor the deadline which the Constitutional Court gave him a long time ago to change the law,” Zekanović emphasized.

Pro-abortion activists are up in arms about the new proposal, of course. “Women are experiencing a kind of gynecological violence,” comments Sanja Kovacevic from the Platform for Reproductive Justice. Women are often turned away when they go to the local hospital for an abortion and even have to endure a moral lecture, she laments.

According to a survey of 30 state-run hospitals and clinics, 54% of medical personnel exercised their right to refuse to perform an abortion in 2014, and 59% in 2018. Conversely, only 3% exercise this right in neighboring Slovenia, where Croatian women often go now to abort their child.

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