Croatian women continue to face obstacles to abortion

Croatian women continue to face obstacles to abortion
Photo Source: Marc Nozell via Flickr


Margareta Ana Baksa 

Europe Team and Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence. 

Women in Croatia continue to face obstacles to abortion, even when it could constitute a medical necessity. A recent story reported on the case of a woman who, upon learning that her child had a malignant tumour it would not survive, was denied an abortion and told to “go home and wait for the child to die” (Telegram, 2022). If she did not want to do that she could, her doctor apparently suggested, go to Slovenia where they might perform the procedure. 

This story is only one of many stories of Croatian women who are refused abortions and, off the record, instructed to attempt to access such procedures across the border in Slovenia. In another case, one woman who in her 26th week of pregnancy learned that her child would not survive and that it would be a significant risk for her were she to give birth, was nonetheless denied an abortion in several hospitals in Croatia. She opted to go to Slovenia where she had to pay €3000 for the abortion. 

Many women also report being told false information regarding abortions, such as the idea that abortions cannot be done in certain cases or after various points in the pregnancy. Croatian legislation provides that, in cases where it is clear that the foetus would not survive, a pregnancy may be terminated. 

Abortions are frequently denied by doctors based on an appeal of conscience (priziv savjesti). Aside from abortions, doctors and midwives can call on their conscience also when refusing to work on medically assisted fertilization, in certain prenatal diagnostic tests, and in administering vaccinations. Many Croatian women, therefore, have to resort to unsafe methods to terminate a pregnancy, wait, or find costly help across the border. 

Sources and further reading 

N1 Hrvatska (2022, May 4). Ginekologinja Grujić za N1: Prizivu savjesti uopće nema mjesta u medicini! [Gynaecologist Grujić for N1: There is no space for an appeal of conscience in medicine!]. N1.

Telegram (2022, May 4). Ovo je Mirela. Beba u njenom trbuhu umire od tumora, a u ovoj bešćutnoj državi ne može abortirati [This is Mirela. The baby in her stomach is dying from a tumour and she cannot get an abortion in this heartless country].

Knežević, K. (2022, May 4). Iskustva žena iz Hrvatske koje su pobacile terminalno bolesne bebe: ‘Svi su nam govorili neka idemo u Sloveniju’ [Experiences of women from Croatia who aborted terminally ill babies: ‘Everyone told us to go to Slovenia’].