A Woman’s Right to Choose

“I was divorced and had one child, I started a relationship with Mirko, who was also divorced and the relationship was over before it started. My period was late. I called him to tell him the news and first thing the next day, without even a second thought, he decided – abortion. I was surprised at my own indifference, but then I came across Oriana Fallaci’s Letter to an Unborn Child – ‘It is difficult to be without a mother or a father, but the most difficult thing is to never be born at all.’”

T.S. describes a similar situation regarding her abortion. She wasn’t asked for her opinion because everything was arranged for her and paid for in a private clinic.

She says having an abortion was extremely difficult and after the procedure, she felt guilty about a decision that wasn’t fully her own. One, she believes, someone else had made for her. She feels that situations determine our actions and she was too weak to oppose her boyfriend’s decision and keep the baby.

The legal penalties that are supposed to regulate the records of surgical procedures, including abortions, have not sufficiently influenced changes in practice, which has led to a system where abortions are still primarily carried out in private clinics. This is because many doctors working in public clinics conscientiously object to performing them. Others do perform the procedure but are inclined to pass judgment on the women who choose this option.

Women most often opt for private clinics, where an abortion costs between 100 and 300 BAM (Bosnian Convertible Marks), which is slightly more expensive than it in a public clinic where the doctor’s discretion is more likely. Such discretion is particularly applied to adolescents who are increasingly seeking the services of private clinics. Dr. Mithat Kurtović, director of the Institute for Health Care of Women and Maternity KS, points out that many private clinics in Bosnia and Herzegovina do not meet the necessary legal requirements to perform abortions.

“Bosnian-Herzegovinian society, which is in transition, does not respect women enough, especially not the pregnant women,” says Dr. Rabija Dedić-Nikšić, a specialist in gynecology and obstetrics. Due to the increasingly frequent practice of employers firing pregnant women, many feel they are being forced to have abortions.

D.K., a single mother from Jajce, recounts, “We were in a long-term relationship and we had plans for the future. Then he got a job in another city and decided to erase me from his life. My pregnancy became more and more visible and I had to deal with all of it alone. In the end, I decided to have the baby,”

According to D.K., abortion was one of her options, but she felt that it was not the right one for her. Or: Even though D.K. considered abortion, she did not feel it would be the right decision.

“There is no greater hardship than waiting nine long months for the birth of a child that will be difficult to rejoice in because it will look like the man who left you. The decision to give birth to my baby girl was difficult, but I overcame the biggest battle of my life,” D.K. explains. She adds that being a single mother is not something society looks upon favorably.

Each case is different and a woman should be encouraged and supported to make the decision that works best for her situation without being judged or burdened with other people’s attitudes and opinions. In the end, it is her body and should be her choice.

 

Sara Velaga

Sara Velaga is a Balkan Diskurs trained correspondent from Jajce, Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 2015 she was awarded second place in the Post-Conflict Research Center’s Srđan Aleksić Youth Competition.

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