Two years into the adoption of the new Law on Termination of Pregnancy, Macedonia has finally joined the ranks of the countries that acknowledge the relevance of medical abortion as an integral part of caring for women’s reproductive health. This is a significant step forward towards ensuring quality abortion care, which is why every year on 28th September the world marks the International Safe Abortion Day.
As of 2021, medical abortion has become available in our country, too, at the University Clinic for Gynaecology and Obstetrics in Skopje. Also referred to as medication abortion, medical abortion is a safe alternative to the surgical approach, which is reflected in the fact that 80% of abortions performed in the EU countries are by means of medicines. And in circumstances of the pandemic, medical abortion is considered to be a safer option for termination of pregnancy as it reduced to the minimum the need to visit a health facility, thus reducing the risk from exposure to COVID-19.
However, at this moment, medical abortion is available in only one health facility in Macedonia. As a consequence, girls and women living outside of Skopje do not have an option as to choose how to terminate their pregnancy, which significantly restricts their reproductive freedom.
The initial findings regarding the application of medical abortion in our country so far show that more than 90% of women are satisfied with this healthcare service, and having the option to substitute the surgical intervention and anaesthesia with medicines contributes to their feeling safer and more dignified. On the other hands, due to the current anti-COVID-19 measures, the hospitals operate on a reduced number of available rooms, so some of the women who sought to undergo abortion at various health facilities across the country have found themselves in conditions where their privacy has been disturbed and were exposed to unsensitive treatment by the healthcare workers.
Taking into account that the ongoing pandemic has only additionally restricted the girls’ and women’s access to healthcare services, today, on the International Safe Abortion Day, we, members of the Gender Equality Platform, demand from our health authorities to ensure a wide application of medical abortion across the entire country, meaning that
- Medical abortion should become a healthcare service available in the hospitals in other towns in the country, and
- Registration of medicines used for medical abortion should be ensured so as to ensure its application both at the level of hospitals and in the gynaecological offices providing primary healthcare.
Due to the sensitivity of this healthcare service, we call on the health facilities to guarantee the right to privacy and confidentiality of women who choose to have an abortion. We call on the healthcare workers to perform their work professionally, demonstrating high level of care and empathy for their patients. In this way, both the health facilities and the healthcare workers will contribute for reducing the stigma and judgment of girls and women who have decided to discontinue their pregnancy. This is particularly important now that women are socially and economically among the ones most heavily affected by the pandemic.
Finally, in times when many right-wing governments in the world have restricted even more drastically their abortion laws and the access to contraceptives, and the comprehensive sexuality education and the longstanding commitments for gender equality have been targeted by manipulation and hate speech, healthcare factors in our country must show support for the human right to a free reproductive life. After all, abortion is a healthcare service just as any other service in the healthcare system – full stop!
Members of the Gender Equality Platform:
- Tiiiit! Inc.
- Bori se ženski [Fight Like a Girl]
- Ženska graǵanska inicijativa “Antiko” [Antiko Women’s Civic Initiative]
- Združenie “Ženski forum” [Women’s Forum Association]
- Združenie za ednakvi možnosti “Semper” [Semper Equal Opportunities Association]
- Združenie za lokalen ruralen razvoj [Association for Local Rural Development]
- Združenie za unapreduvanje na rodovata ednakvost “Akcija združenska” [Akcija Združenska Association for Advancement of Gender Equality]
- Združenie za emancipacija, solidarnost i ednakvost na ženite “ESE” [ESE Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women]
- Združenie za edukativen razavoj “Ekvalis” [Aequālis Association for Educational Development]
- Institut za opštestveni i humanistički nauki [Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities]
- Koalicija “Seksualni i zdravstveni prava na marginaliziranite zaednici” [Coalition Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalised Communities]
- Mreža za zaštita od diskriminacija [Anti-discrimination Network]
- Nacionalna mreža protiv nasilstvo vrz ženite i semejno nasilstvo [National Network to End Violence against Women and Domestic Violence]
- Nacioanel sovet za rodova ramnopravnost [National Gender Equality Council]
- Organizacija na ženi na Grad Skopje “OŽS” [OŽS Women’s Organisation of the City of Skopje]
- Organizaija na ženite na Opština Sveti Nikole [Women’s Organisation of the Municipality of Sveti Nikole]
- Organizacija na ženite “Kumanovka” [Kumanovka Women’s Organisation]
- Reaktor – Istražuvanje vo akcija [Reactor – Research in Action]
- Ruralna koalicija [Rural Coalition]
- Helsinški komitet za čovekovi prava [Helsinki Committee for Human Rights]
- HOPS – Opcii za zdrav život Skopje [HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje]
- Humanitarno združenie “Majka” [Majka Humanitarian Association]
- Centar za istražuvanje i kreiranje politiki CRPM [CRPM Centre for Research and Policy Making]