ZAGREB - Although women have the legal right to abortion across the vast majority of countries in Europe, women in some east European countries are finding it tougher to terminate pregnancies. Our grantees looked into examples of Croatia, Romania, and Poland.

A team of three journalists (Lina Vdovii from Romania, Michael Bird from the United Kingdom and Blaz Zgaga from Slovenia) follows the stories of women in Romania, Poland, and Croatia, who did not have access to abortions. 

In Romania, their research shows that over one-quarter of public hospitals are not performing abortions, while the majority of health workers in Croatia and hospitals in Poland - in cases where the procedure is legal - are not providing this service.

This is happening because doctors are invoking a “conscience clause” to refuse to conduct abortions on ethical and religious grounds. However, at an institutional level, hospitals are not allowed to refuse a patient such care.

The investigation also reveals that constant efforts are underway in all three countries to make their abortion laws stricter. In Poland, a law to ban abortion in all cases failed to pass in parliament, in Croatia, the debate on changing the law continues, while in Romania, there are the seeds of a new initiative to change the law.

Meanwhile, American and religious pro-life groups have been active in these countries for over 15 years, and we look at who is financing the anti-abortion cause in Croatia and Romania. Groups associated with the pro-life cause have also been active at the EU level, lobbying European institutions, and we examine their spending record and quiz them about their activities.

© Photo: Michael Bird

Team members

Michael Bird

Michael Bird is an award-winning journalist and writer based in Bucharest, Romania.

Michael Bird

Blaž Zgaga

Blaž Zgaga, Slovenia, is a Slovenian freelance investigative journalist and co-author of the best-selling trilogy In the Name of the State.

Lina Vdovîi

Lina Vdovîi is a Moldovan-born journalist. She started working as a reporter for Opinia Studenteasca in Iasi, Romania.

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