Slovakia votes on pro-life laws, Indonesia cracks down on illegal abortions (and other stories)

Earlier this month, I published my interview with a leading pro-life activist in Slovakia, detailing the efforts of the movement there. According to Reuters, a vote on tightening abortion restrictions is now imminent:

Christian lawmakers in Slovakia hope to win parliamentary approval for a tightening of abortion rules in a vote expected on Friday, part of a trend towards more socially conservative policies across parts of central Europe. If adopted, the new regulation would still allow abortion on demand until 12 weeks but would double waiting periods to 96 hours, ban clinics from advertising services and make women declare their reasons for termination.

Its impact would also be felt in Poland, where rights activists say hundreds, and possibly thousands, of women cross the border to Slovakia every year for terminations that would be illegal or impossible at home.

The trend towards pro-life laws in some European countries is encouraging. I hope this one passes.

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In Indonesia, where abortion is still generally illegal, the police are cracking down on illicit abortion services. From the Jakarta Post:

The Jakarta Police is set to block websites that offer illegal abortion services and products over public health and safety concerns. Jakarta Police’s special crimes unit head Sr. Comr. Roma Hutajulu told tempo.co on Thursday that his office had discovered a number of websites containing contact details of several illegal abortion clinics across the capital.

In addition to abortion services, such clinics also offer drugs to induce miscarriage, according to him. “We have checked [the abortion sites] and will take action,” Roma said. He went on to say that the police had also scoured social media platforms to find offers of illicit abortion services. In one case, the LinkedIn profile of a company in North Jakarta offers a variety of abortion pills.

The Communications and Information Ministry has yet to provide any statement on the matter. On Wednesday, police arrested ten individuals linked to an abortion clinic in Senen, Central Jakarta, that advertised its services and products on the internet. The clinic has reportedly aborted more than 32,000 fetuses since 2017. It charges Rp 2 million (US$134.47) for the abortion of fetuses under five weeks of age and Rp 4 million for fetuses older than five weeks, according to one of the suspects, the police said. Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Yusri Yunus said the clinic would typically serve five to six patients per day and had generated over Rp 10 billion in revenue since its founding.

Abortion activists often claim that banning abortion would do no good, because abortions would still happen. That is true, as it is for every single other crime. But when it does happen, abortionists can be punished by law.

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According to the Netherlands Times, a prominent Dutch abortion activist is being celebrated by TIME:

Rebecca Gomperts is one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people this year. The Dutch activist has dedicated her life to trying to get women safe access to abortions in countries where abortion is illegal. Gomperts is the founder of Women on Waves, which involves a ship with an on board abortion clinic. Women are taken from countries where abortion is illegal by boat to this ship on international waters, where they can get the treatment they need.

Last year, Gomperts and her organization Aid Access also sued American drugs agency FDA to make sure women in the United States could keep access to early, safe and remote abortion in the form of pills provided by Aid Access. Cecile Richards, who wrote the piece on Gomperts for the Time’s list, called the Dutch woman “one of the bravest people I know”. 

Gomperts spends much time attempting to get abortion pills into nations where it is still illegal to kill children in the womb. It is unsurprising that she is being praised by a woman—Cecile Richards—who is responsible for hundreds of thousands of children being killed by abortion.

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The BBC has just published a story detailing the efforts of a pro-choice group to increase the number of abortion providers in Germany:

Although Germany is widely perceived as a liberal country, its reproductive laws are surprisingly restrictive. Abortion isn’t actually legal – it’s just unpunished up to 12 weeks from conception, providing the woman has undergone the counselling session, followed by a waiting period of three days.

For this reason abortion hasn’t been taught at medical schools, and there is a shortage of doctors performing the procedure as a result. In some parts of Germany women have to travel long distances to reach a clinic where abortions are carried out. In 2018 more than 1,000 crossed into the Netherlands, where the process is simpler and the time limit is 22 weeks. Some doctors also commute from Belgium and the Netherlands to carry out abortions in northern German cities such as Bremen and Münster.

Medical Students for Choice Berlin is trying to address the difficulties faced by women seeking an abortion by holding papaya workshops, where the procedure is carried out on the tropical fruit. Its size makes a handy stand-in for a human uterus, and its seeds are vacuumed out to demonstrate how the foetus may be removed. The idea is to get students in touch with the topic, and to encourage them to pursue specialist training after finishing their undergraduate course.

The group was founded in 2015 by Alicia Baier, who says she only found out about the difficulties faced by women seeking an abortion by chance, at a conference during her fourth year of medical studies.

Read the whole thing. Germany’s abortion rate has remained consistently low, and the stigma brought by illegality is one reason for that.

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