Safe Abortion Day – Abortion: One federal state has no offer at all

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Safe Abortion Day – Abortion: One federal state has no offer at all

September 28 is “Safe Abortion Day” – experts estimate that 30,000 to 40,000 abortions are performed in Austria, but no official data is available. But access to the relevant offer is extremely poor depending on the region. In two states there is only one agency that performs abortions; in one state there is no doctor at all who terminates unwanted pregnancies.

The only doctor offering abortions in Vorarlberg wants to retire – this case has shown that there are places on the Austrian map where there are few or no opportunities to perform this medical procedure. “Abortion access in Austria is in the lower middle class compared to other European countries,” explains Angela Tunkel of the Austrian Family Planning Association (ÖGF). There are strong differences between them Western and Eastern Austria or country and city.

There is no possibility to terminate a pregnancy in Burgenland
Vorarlberg is currently feverishly searching for a follow-up solution. There is currently talk of a practice in the staff dormitory of the Bregenz hospital, but this should not be ready until the end of 2024. There is fear of a shortage of supply. The provision for unintentionally pregnant women is also inadequate in other states. Besides the Ländle, there is only one doctor in Tyrol who offers abortions. In Burgenland there is no place where those affected can undergo such an intervention.

In Austria, abortion is still fundamentally illegal for everyone involved. It is the only medical service punishable by imprisonment. The so-called time limit solution has existed for fifty years: under strictly regulated conditions, abortions are not punishable in the first three months after the start of pregnancy. “This leads to social stigma, shame and condemnation of those affected,” says Tunkel.

Many doctors also have reservations about offering abortions. “Many people do not even mention on their website that they perform abortions and on the other hand, many people do not know that since mid-2020 they can order and give the abortion pill Mifegyne at the pharmacy for women,” says the clinical and health psychologist. The ÖGF advocates sexual and reproductive rights and also offers a list of doctors and clinics that offer abortions on its website – but this offer is very limited.

“Anyone who forces women into an unwanted pregnancy is committing violence.”
“We must remember that access alone is not enough; it must also be affordable for the people affected. The affordable offers are available in Vienna,” explains Dr. Tunkel. An abortion must be paid for by the person concerned and can cost more than 900 euros. If there is a lack of low income, women would be forced to continue their pregnancies and women would be reduced to fertile bodies, “which is contrary to their inviolable dignity.” Current legislation would deny women the right to bodily autonomy. She finds clear words for the situation: “Anyone who forces women to continue an unwanted pregnancy is exercising violence.”

The expert cannot understand the often mentioned argument that young people in particular would find it easier to use contraception if the options for abortion were made easier. The association ÖGF demands that the costs of these interventions be covered by social insurance – and at the same time also cover the costs of contraceptives. Because: “Access to free contraception, contraceptive advice and sex education is the best prevention against unplanned pregnancies,” Tunkel is convinced.

Source: Krone

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