Convicted for ‘advertising’ abortion, German doctors are fighting to share the facts

By Ivana Kottasová, CNN
Mon June 7, 2021

(CNN) Dr. Detlef Merchel didn't expect to end up in court for doing what he sees as part of his job: giving his patients information about the medical procedures he provides. But there he was, getting convicted for "advertising abortion" -- a crime in Germany.

He received a fine of €3,000 ($3,650) last month for sharing details about the type of abortion he offers, as well as the legal requirements for accessing it on his website.


Amid stigma in Croatia, volunteers support women having abortions

While terminating a pregnancy is legal in Croatia, access to abortion is becoming increasingly challenging.

By Amanda Coakley
27 May 2021

Zagreb, Croatia – Zorana did not expect the call to come so soon.

Two weeks earlier, she had signed up online to be a Brave Sister and was still considering the level of involvement she wanted with the new initiative.

The mother-of-two was keen to help, but was nervous about the social implications of being associated with such a group.


Ireland – Only one in 10 GPs in State provide abortion services, study shows

Coverage a barrier to accessing services in rural and marginalised areas, study finds

May 24, 2021
Sarah Burns

Only one in 10 GPs in the State provide abortion services, according to a paper published by the National Women’s Council.

While GPs providing early medical abortions are “very committed”, coverage remains a significant barrier to accessing services in rural areas and in marginalised communities, it states.


Women in Croatia fear further erosion of long-held abortion rights

Pro-choice activists fear mandatory counselling may be added to abortion law

Sun, May 23, 2021
Amanda Coakley in Zagreb

In August, Karla, a 37-year-old mother of two, found herself in a worrisome situation. She was pregnant and was struggling to find a licensed clinic to perform a medical abortion in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.

According to her doctor she had been one of the small percentage of women for whom the morning-after pill was ineffective. One private clinic told her it could only do a surgical abortion due to the coronavirus pandemic. A public hospital told her doctor its internal politics wouldn’t allow the procedure to be performed.


Italy’s futile abortion laws

Despite legislation, far-right politicians and religious organisations have entrenched ways to deny women their right to an abortion and shame those who do terminate a pregnancy.

By: Alex Čizmić
5 May 2021

There are laws that are enacted to bring about real-life change. There are others that are pushed through simply to give the illusion of progress. The latter seems to be the case in Italy with Law 194/78.

This legislation from 22 May 1978 decriminalises and regulates the procedure for accessing an abortion but, according to a report by the minister of health published in 2019 on the implementation of the law, conscientious objection among gynaecologists reached 68.4% on average with peaks of 100% in certain hospitals.


Abortion: London wants ‘concrete steps’ towards NI services by summer

Apr 26, 2021

The Department of Health must take "concrete steps" towards commissioning full abortion services in NI before the summer, a government minister has said.

Robin Walker said the secretary of state stands ready to act if significant progress is not made.


Italian legal system forcing clandestine abortions

The law in Italy has made it difficult for women to have freedom of choice in the matter of abortion, some resorting to dangerous methods, writes Francesco Bertolucci.

By Francesco Bertolucci
17 April 2021

IN ITALY, almost 70% of the total number of gynaecologists deny the possibility of performing abortions because of their religious beliefs. This is an option guaranteed to doctors by Law 194 of 1978, which regulated access to abortion and decriminalised it. Until that year, anyone who procured or caused an abortion was liable to penalties ranging from six months to 12 years' imprisonment.

Silvana Agatone, gynaecologist and president of Laiga, a free Italian association of gynaecologists, spoke about the application of Law 194:


Call for abortion protest ‘exclusion zones’ in Northern Ireland

By Jayne McCormack, BBC News NI Political Reporter
March 31, 2021

Exclusion zones should be introduced outside sexual health clinics and pregnancy counselling centres in NI to protect staff and women accessing services, a report has said.

Protests and demonstrations would not be allowed within the zones.


SPAIN – Abortion is prohibited in Rioja

From: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
March 24, 2021

Rioja is a province and autonomous community in northern Spain. A report in a feminist magazine called Pikara, published on 17 February 2021, reported that all the gynaecology staff in Rioja have signed a conscientious objection statement in order not to have to do voluntary abortions. Women from Rioja are therefore referred to other provinces, which can delay their abortions by as much as two weeks, despite the fact that the upper time limit for a legal abortion on request is 14 weeks and a three-day reflection period is also required.
This article focuses on the personal experiences of women who have tried to get an abortion in Rioja. After it was published, many feminist activists in the province expressed concern because they didn’t realise this situation existed. Other voices have been raised from other regions of Spain as well. This is very important for us at Women’s Link Worldwide, as we have been denouncing these situations for years and they are finally starting to get space in the media via personal testimonies, and not only based on the official statistics we have shared. The following are excerpts from the much longer Pikara article.
When Maria realised she was pregnant, she made an appointment with her family doctor for an abortion. She was a single mother with a one-year-old son and couldn't consider having another child at the time. The doctor was about to say "congratulations" when Maria burst into tears. “She treated me very well and started the process for me, but she was the only doctor who did treat me well.” Her doctor did not have the papers she needed for Maria to get an appointment at the local hospital, where she would be counselled and formally request an abortion. After the papers were finally sent in, however, the hospital did not contact Maria to make an appointment for ten days. So she went in person to ask what the problem was, and was told that the hospital, and no other hospital in Rioja, public or private, would help with abortion because of conscientious objection.
So Maria had to go looking for another hospital to counsel her. However, the staff at the one she found was on holiday for a week. By the time she saw someone, it was on a Wednesday, she was eight weeks pregnant. She was told she had to wait to collect the papers until the following Monday, though that was longer than the required three days for reflection. She began to feel overwhelmed because yet another week was going to go by. When she returned for the consultation and confirmed she wanted an abortion, she was given three options, all of which involved travel to another city – Zaragoza, Pamplona or Bilbao. She chose Bilbao because it was closest and she had a friend there. By the time she was able to get an appointment however, she was already 11.5 weeks pregnant. That was too late for medical abortion pills so she had a surgical abortion, and was given only a sedative.
Another woman, a mother of two children, was given a very hard time by the doctor who she saw to get permission for the abortion. She said: “In my case I already had two children. I know what a fetus can turn into later. It was very unpleasant. They even told me that they recommended I have my tubes tied, that I was irresponsible. I had to do a lot of paperwork and it took two weeks for me to make an appointment at a clinic in Pamplona. Then you get there and you find an anti-abortion demonstration at the door, telling you to put it up for adoption. I had to ask for the day off to go there, paying for the trip out of my pocket, have the intervention at five in the afternoon and by seven return home… When I had my third child, I was fired from my job while breastfeeding, despite having been at the company for five years. It's easy to say don't abort, of course, but then look what happens."
Another woman described how she experienced contraceptive failure and was told by the local hospital that abortion was illegal. As a public defender herself, she knew that was wrong, but rather than argue she decided to go to a private hospital in Logroño, the capital of Rioja, where they explained that they did not perform abortions either and that she should try a gynaecology clinic in the city. In the end she found a private clinic in Vitoria, a city near Bilbao, and paid 300 Euros plus the bus trip. The boyfriend had freaked out and disappeared, so she was relieved she hadn't had the baby. She said she didn’t dare to tell her family as she felt ashamed. “Before my abortion, I had no idea that this sort of thing was happening because no one talks about it,” she said.
One of the places that women in Rioja are seen locally is the hospital emergency room – if they are miscarrying, that is. “Officially, there is no one who performs abortions in Rioja, but sometimes women with ‘an abortion in progress’ arrive at the emergency room, and then they do care for you, of course, because it has already happened. Women come in bleeding because someone has given them the abortion pills, this happens a lot.”
There are also private clinics making money out of this situation. In 2019 the Socialist Party won the election in Rioja, and formed a government with United We Can. Although the pandemic has delayed action, a commitment has been made to ensure that a sufficient number of gynaecologists will provide abortions. A new equality bill is also on the table and ideas are being discussed for a law that will ensure abortion is provided in Rioja in the public health system. Let’s hope so.
BACKGROUND: by Laura Martínez Valero, Women’s Link Worldwide, E-mail: 11 March 2021.
REPORT: Prohibido abortar en La Rioja, by Teresa Villaverde, Pikara, 17 February 2021 (en español). VISUAL: Pikara logo.

Health practitioners sue Crown over abortion legislation

8 March 2021

A new requirement in the Abortion Legislation Act 2020 requires a practitioner who objects to abortion to refer the patient to a doctor who can help them.

The Health Professionals' Alliance is fighting for a declaration that the new law interferes with the Bill of Rights Act.