In Austria, a debate about wider access to abortions and the option to have a termination of pregnancy at government hospitals is underway. The ministry of health has pointed out that abortions are not available in western Austria, and has called for a change. As always, this abortion debate is heated (see pro-life activists threaten Wichita doctor for another recent example!) and hardly any politician or other public figure has kept quiet about their views. What are they saying? Here is an overview of the opinions:
- Health Minister Alois Stoeger: "Pregnancy terminations should be offered in every region. A whole group of people, ie. women, is not being taken seriously if in all of western Austria this option does not exist. Women have the right to decide whether they want a termination or not."
- Karlheinz Kopf of the conservative People's Party: "Abortion is not a state duty."
- Vice-governor Markus Wallner of the Vorarlberg province where abortion is not available at public hospitals: "Carrying out abortions is not the job of public hospitals, and it will stay that way."
- The extreme right Freedom Party, or FPO, that used to be led by the late Jorg Haider said that the law "only says that the killing of unborn lives is free from sanctions, but it remains illegal". Their statement said: "There is no such thing as a right to abortion."
- Social Democrat minister for women's affairs Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek: "Women have a right to self-determination over their body and should not be hindered by inadequate medical facilities."
This ongoing debate will be interesting, and the outcome is yet unclear. In Austria, there are many Catholics and many public figured who are opposed to abortion, as you can see from the overview of comments on this current debate. On the other hand, the Social Democratic government may just win the debate. You may also like to read how access to free birth control prevents repeat abortions.