Romania’s abortion ban tore at society, a warning for U.S.

Romania’s abortion ban between 1966 and 1989 caused maternal mortality rates to jump and left people wary of one another

Perspective by Gail Kligman
September 15, 2022

Courtesy of the Supreme Court, an increasing number of American states — most recently West Virginia — are now in the company of the extreme antiabortion regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, from which Romanians were liberated when the communist dictator and his wife, Elena, were executed on Dec. 25, 1989. The provisional government swiftly moved to legalize abortion to the great relief of the population. A Christian Science Monitor headline proclaimed: “Freedom Triumphs and Romania Goes Pro-Choice: Romania’s Pre-revolution Abortion Laws Should Serve as Warning to the U.S.”


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.


Viewing the abortion issue through public health lenses

Published July 15, 2022

Fragmented views to abortion globally have caused its legal status to vary widely across countries. 

As the United States Supreme Court recently struck down the landmark Roe v Wade 1973 ruling, it is fitting to revisit the case for safe, accessible and legal abortions from the public health point of view.


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.


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.


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.”


What Actually Happens When a Country Bans Abortion

What Actually Happens When a Country Bans Abortion
Romania under Ceausescu created a dystopian horror of overcrowded, filthy orphanages, and thousands died from back-alley abortions.

By Amy Mackinnon
May 16, 2019

As lawmakers in Alabama this week passed a bill that would outlaw abortion in the U.S. state entirely, protesters outside the statehouse wore blood-red robes, a nod to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, in which childbearing is entirely controlled by the state. Hours later, the book was trending on Twitter.

But opponents of the restrictive abortion laws currently being considered in the United States don’t need to look to fiction for admonitory examples of where these types of laws can lead. For decades, communist Romania was a real-life test case of what can happen when a country outlaws abortion entirely, and the results were devastating.