Dozens of Hungarian women travel to Austria each week to get an abortion

August 17. 2023. – 11:56 AM



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Even though abortion is legal in Hungary, dozens of Hungarian women are travelling to Austria every week to have an abortion. Some of those affected told Euronews that the sometimes humiliating treatment and the waiting lists are forcing them to have their pregnancies terminated abroad.

"I was sure that I didn't want to go through this process in Hungary," Adri, 32, told the newspaper. She lives near Budapest and has a son from a previous pregnancy, whom she is raising alone.

Surgical abortion is legal in Hungary until the 12th week of pregnancy. Prior to undergoing the procedure, women must attend two compulsory appointments with a state health care provider. At the first one, they are informed about other options," Réka Lebedi, a lawyer at the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), told the newspaper. The second is to inform them about the risks of the surgery.

Lebedi said there were two problems with these consultations: "The staff at these family protection services are incredibly busy," she said, which can lead to women running out of time. "Through our partners, we also know that the tone used during these consultations can be humiliating for women".

Adri, who, in her own words, experienced systematic abuse during her divorce, "did not want to subject herself to further abuse". So she registered at a clinic in Austria recommended by a friend.

Euronews quotes Christian Fiala, a gynaecologist at a clinic in Vienna, who says that about 10-15 Hungarian women undergo an abortion at the clinic every week. But apart from this clinic, there are several other abortion clinics in Austria. A Hungarian customer service representative at another Austrian clinic told the paper that they also receive about the same number of women per week. This clinic also has websites in Polish and Russian, presumably because women from those countries also come to them. The price of an abortion at these clinics is between €500 and €600, or between 180 and 230 thousand forints.

Another Hungarian woman told the paper that when she wanted to have an abortion and called the Hungarian family protection service, she was told that she would have to wait more than a month for the surgery because of the long waiting list. So she decided to go to a clinic in Vienna instead, which she found through a Google search.

In September last year, the Hungarian government tightened the country's abortion regulation overnight, without any public debate or professional consultation. According to this, women seeking abortion must prove that they have been "clearly presented with an identifiable indication of the foetus' vital functions" by their doctor, i.e. they must listen to the heartbeat of their foetus, although experts we interviewed said it was not clear how the regulation should be interpreted.

Válasz Online recently reported that the number of abortions in Hungary has not decreased since the adoption of the so-called heartbeat regulation last September, but on the contrary, their number has been on the increase for four consecutive months.

Women's experiences on the subject are not unanimous: for some, abortion is a huge trauma, while for others it's just an episode in their lives. The reasons for abortion can vary widely, but one thing is certain: abortion is not a political act, but a choice made in light of individual circumstances.

Last fall, we spoke with those protesting the tightening of the abortion law.

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