Access to Abortion Is Shrinking in Romania

In a country that famously banned terminations, with devastating consequences, new medical rules are once again costing women’s lives

Lili Rutai
June 14, 2024

Alina Usurelu sensed she was pregnant. An independent artist, she often works with her body, which is how she quickly noticed it change. “Very rationally, I knew I couldn’t deal with having a kid,” the 33-year-old told me in the Romanian capital of Bucharest, citing her financial insecurity. A pregnancy test last September confirmed her suspicion.

But in the city of 1.8 million, Usurelu could not find an affordable, state-run hospital online. “I was struggling. My anxiety grew,” she told New Lines a few months later. We met near her apartment in one of Bucharest’s central neighborhoods, where buildings with high ceilings are sandwiched between crumbling Soviet-era blocks. Her black hair is peppered with gray, cut short for a recent performance.


Refugees return to Ukraine due to reproductive, sexual challenges

By Aleksandra Krzysztoszek |
May 16, 2023

Ukrainian refugees are temporarily returning home to receive sexual and reproductive healthcare after finding their options limited in Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, while others seek illegal solutions, according to a study published by the Centre for Reproductive Rights.

A study published on Tuesday, the work of nine international human rights organisations documents the alarming impact that restrictive national laws have on refugees seeking essential care and support.


How US dollars put anti-abortion groups at the heart of Romanian healthcare

Buoyed by evangelical zeal, a growing number of US-funded ‘pregnancy crisis centres’ threaten to return the country to the deadly days of Ceaușescu’s ban

Weronika Strzyżyńska and Diana Oncioiu in Romania
Fri 22 Jul 2022

It was the middle of summer, and the smell of ripening mirabelle plums filled the streets of Bucharest. Irina Mateescu was almost 18 and living with her grandparents. She had good grades, a boyfriend, and a late period which she was trying not think about.

“Eventually, I couldn’t ignore it any more. I saw a leaflet advertising free pregnancy tests. I didn’t have the money to buy one so I went to the address,” she recalls, 22 years later standing on the balcony of her new office.


Romania: abortion, mission (almost) impossible

In Romania, having an abortion has become increasingly difficult. Under the pressure of the Church and pro-life NGOs – and with the complicity of the state – women are losing this fundamental right.

Florentin Cassonet

Kai, 22, tells her story sitting at the desk in her small student room on the outskirts of Bucharest. After growing up in South Africa, she returned to her homeland in 2017 to study veterinary medicine. Last summer she found herself in a young man's apartment after a night in which she and her friends had been drinking. She had passed out. When she regained consciousness, she was naked on the bed of the guy who had invited her, in pain. "His room-mates started clapping when they saw me. I left in a hurry". A few days later Kai realised she was pregnant. A friend then advised her to go to the police. But first she went to the guy who raped her and told him she was pregnant and she needed money to have an abortion". He replied: 'I'll give you the money if you blow me'. I slapped him, went home, and called the police”.


Activists Say Romania Has Been Quietly Phasing Out Abortion

September 1, 2021

Daniela Draghici knows firsthand what an abortion ban looks like.

In 1976, when she was a college student in the Romanian capital of Bucharest, she got pregnant after her contraception failed. Abortion was prohibited in Romania.

With the help of a friend, Draghici was taken to a woman with no medical training to end her pregnancy.


Contemporary abortion restrictions and cautionary tales from history

Carla Ramazan
Dec 18, 2020
Reno Gazette Journal

Nearly 20 years ago, my aunt died obtaining an unsafe abortion in our home country, Romania, because federal laws made it impossible to safely terminate a pregnancy. Today, the United States is bordering on a reality where abortion is inaccessible, if not illegal, especially in Republican-controlled states such as Arkansas. This year, a federal court ruled that a variety of first-of-their-kind abortion regulations can be implemented in Arkansas. This decision will push those who seek abortion-care into dark situations.

Beginning this August, doctors in Arkansas
are prohibited from performing dilation and evacuation abortions on patients,
and consequences for not complying include up to six years in prison. Doctors
will also be required to notify local law enforcement when patients under the
age of 17 seek an abortion and will be forced to involve family members of the
patient in deciding how to dispose of fetal tissue remains.


When will conservatives learn that banning abortion does little to address demographic decline?

October 3, 2020
Milana Nikolova

A new Slovak bill limiting access to abortion – proposed by the populist OĽaNO (Ordinary People) party MP Anna Záborská – adds to a heap of similar laws that have been proposed throughout the emerging Europe region in recent years. The bill was brought before the Slovak parliament on Tuesday, but despite a heated debate that continued until late in the evening, a final decision could not be reached and a formal vote on its adoption was postponed: for now.

The draft bill proposes doubling the amount of time a patient should wait between requesting and receiving an abortion, increasing the amount of personal data collected about the patient, and requiring a compulsory second medical opinion, along with other measures designed to make getting an abortion more difficult.


Europe – Women turn to backstreet abortions during coronavirus

Women turn to backstreet abortions during coronavirus
(7 minute video)

Women across Europe are struggling to get abortions because of the coronavirus pandemic.

June 23, 2020


Podcast: Abortion Wars (Europe)

Abortion Wars

Why are more women from Poland and Croatia seeking pregnancy terminations abroad? (Photo: EU Scream)

By EU Scream
BRUSSELS, July 21, 2019

33-minute podcast on the topic of abortion under attack: "Why are more women from Poland and Croatia seeking pregnancy terminations abroad?" Discusses refusal to treat under “conscientious objection”, the anti-choice movement, how the LGBT community faces the same enemy as the pro-choice movement, also Romania.


Over 30 percent of hospitals in Romania are refusing legal abortions

Over 30 percent of hospitals in Romania are refusing legal abortions
Doctors invoke conscience clause to avoid performing abortions. An investigation by The Black Sea.

By Lina Vdovîi, Michael Bird
11 July 2019

Romanian medical student Bianca was in South Korea in March this year when she discovered she was pregnant.

At the time she was taking part in a short work placement in Daegu in the south-east of the country, and was soon to return to Germany to resume her Erasmus programme.

“The news freaked me out,” she told The Black Sea. “I knew a baby would complicate my career and I was not ready for it.”