28 September 2022 – A gender-equal society where abortion will be safe, legal and accessible to all women, without stigma and discrimination – this is the demand that today, on the 28th of September, the International Safe Abortion Day, was put forward by thousands of supporters of reproductive freedom to their Governments worldwide. In this occasion, the Gender Equality Platform pointed out that the access to reproductive health services must be guaranteed, even in crises situations.
This is particularly important if we take into account the economic crisis and the war, which have a direct impact on the financial and social stability and, consequently, on the wellbeing of people across the world, and in this country, too. Although the existing Law on Termination of Pregnancy in Macedonia is more liberal than the former one, it has still failed to provide for covering of costs when this health service is required for social or material reasons. By treating the abortion as an essential health service only when medical grounds exist, the Health Insurance Fund and other responsible institutions place the women who are at social risk or who live in poverty in predicament when they do not wish to continue their pregnancy.
In less than a year, the prices for abortion charged by private clinics in Macedonia have doubled, and this service now costs some 350-400 euros. Moreover, medical abortion (medication-assisted abortion), which is a safer and a cheaper option than the surgical method, is only available at the University Gynaecology and Obstetrics Clinic in Skopje, and only intermittently, as there is discontinuity in the delivery of the necessary medicines. Women in other towns, however, are not given this option, not only because of the inaccessible medicines, but also on account of undertrained staff in the local state-owned hospitals.
For this reason, Gender Equality Platform calls on the responsible institutions in this country to recognise the need for abortion of poor and marginalised women, and to ensure affordable prices for this essential health service, especially in times of crisis. Otherwise, the state is (or will be) directly pushing the women in even greater poverty and in social insecurity, and it is highly likely that these women will be forced to seek less expensive, illegal abortion options, which will pose a direct threat to their health and to the wellbeing of their immediate family.
Members of the Gender Equality Platform:
- Tiiiit! Inc.
- Fight Like a Girl
- Antiko Women’s Civic Initiative
- Women’s Forum Association
- Semper Equal Opportunities Association
- Association for Local Rural Development
- Star-Star Association for the Support of Marginalised Workers
- Akcija Združenska Association for Advancement of gender Equality
- ESE Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women
- Aequālis Association for Educational Development
- Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities
- Coalition Margins
- Anti-discrimination Network
- National Network to End Violence against Women and Domestic Violence
- National Gender Equality Council
- OŽS Women’s Organisation of the City of Skopje
- Women’s Organisation of the Municipality of Sveti Nikole
- Kumanovka Women’s Organisation
- Reactor – Research in Action
- Rural Coalition
- Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
- HERA – Health Education and Research Association
- HOPS – Healthy Options Project
- Majka Humanitarian Association
- CRPM Centre for Research and Policy Making