The upper floor of the YO!Fest main venue Muziekgieterij is divided into six zones, one of which discusses the topic of a healthy Europe from many points of view. The morning workshop ai???Abortion: A Matter of Health and Rightsai??? discussed the medical and legal perspectives of abortions, and got the participants informed about womenai??i??s rights in Europe and in other countries.
Abortion is the ending of pregnancy by a medical procedure where the fetus or embryo is removed before it can survive outside of the uterus. A safe abortion requires receiving enough information about it, having a doctor specialised in abortions doing the medical procedure and a suitable hygienic environment.
The possible challenge of reaching these conditions is that abortion is not legal in all countries. Restriction of abortion violates womenai??i??s human rights and legalization of abortion can save lives of women and keep them from unnecessary suffering. Illegalising abortions does not lessen their frequency, but without the necessary information and education it makes them risky, expensive and possibly traumatising for women. World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that 47000 women died from unsafe abortions in 2008.
The World Abortion Laws map produced by the Center for Reproductive Rights shows the legal status of abortion across the globe in 2014.
In the red countries of the map abortions are illegal in all circumstances or permitted only to safe a womanai??i??s life. Of the European countries there are Ireland and Malta. Ireland permits abortion only if the womanai??i??s life is threatened and in Malta it is not legal under any circumstances. In Malta anyone performing an abortion can be jailed for between 18 months and three years.
In the orange countries of the map abortions are legally permitted only to save a womanai??i??s life or protect her physical health. Poland is the only European country in this category. In Poland the law is more restrictive in practice. This is mainly due to the lack of acceptance on the medical field and it can be very difficult to find a doctor to do the procedure.
The 13 yellow countries of the map also permit abortion for socioeconomic reasons and the 61 green countries have the most liberal abortion laws and permit abortion without restriction as to reason, and the women makes the decision whether to end a pregnancy.
The YO!Fest workshop discussed the reasons why some countries donai??i??t currently have legalised abortion and came up with these reasons:
- Lack of education
- Lack of understanding the female body
- Male-dominated governments
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The influence of male-dominated governments is a reason that was heavily discussed. In many countries, the government decides the laws on abortion, and therefore tells women what to do with their bodies. The new generation in the YO!Fest workshop agreed on the importance of womenai??i??s rights, safe, legal and accessible abortion services in all countries and agreed that building a Europe with safe and accessible medical care for us all must be a priority for our future.