Czech Cabinet Approves Bill Enabling "Abortion Tourism"

The Czech cabinet has passed a controversial bill that would allow Czech doctors to kill the unborn children of EU residents from other countries with more restrictive abortion laws.

Members of the Christian Democrat party (KDU-ÈSL) on Tuesday asked KDU-ÈSL head Jiri Cunek to begin coalition talks to attempt revision of the bill to change the “abortion tourism” provisions before it is submitted to the Parliament for final approval, according to the Czech News Agency.

The KDU-ÈSL has campaigned steadily in previous months against the abortion bill, as well as another that would loosen restrictions on in-vitro fertilization. The party had proposed abortion restriction legislation in April, which included a stricter time limit on health-related abortions and heightened consent requirements.

Some controversy surrounding the bill stems from the fact that the bill was approved without the Cabinet submitting to the standard discussion meeting involving unions, the government, and healthcare institutions.

Milan Kubek, president of the non-partisan medical union Czech Medical Chamber (ÈLK), told the Prague Post that the union also opposed the abortion ruling, saying the bills in the package were in general "poorly drafted.” He complained that the union's requests to discuss the legislation with the Cabinet prior to its passage were ignored.

Under current Czech law, unrestricted abortion is allowed until 12 weeks gestation, and with "medical indications" until 24 weeks. Children diagnosed with serious abnormalities can be legally aborted at any gestational age. The mother must be at least 16 to have an abortion without the consent of her parents, and cannot have had an abortion within 6 months prior.

The "abortion tourists" would most likely come from neighboring Poland, where abortion is not penalized only in case of rape, significant fetal abnormality, or the presence of a serious health threat to the mother. Abortion was made illegal in the country after the collapse of communism in 1993. Though abortion tourism is technically illegal according to current Czech law, Polish women seeking abortion have been reported to travel to the Czech Republic for the procedure.

Despite a plummeting birthrate - well below the replacement rate of 2.1, at 1.22 - the citizens of the Czech Republic continue to strongly favor abortion.


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