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.
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.
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”.