The deliberate termination of unintended pregnancy was a major social and medical problem that affected demographic trends throughout Yugoslavia (1918 - 1991) to a large extent. Since the 1920s, Yugoslavs chose to have a family with less children, primarily for economic and social reasons. The first step towards the liberalization ... (Show more)
The deliberate termination of unintended pregnancy was a major social and medical problem that affected demographic trends throughout Yugoslavia (1918 - 1991) to a large extent. Since the 1920s, Yugoslavs chose to have a family with less children, primarily for economic and social reasons. The first step towards the liberalization of abortion was made in 1952 with the adoption of the Regulation on the Execution of the Allowed and the Completion of a Started Abortion. The Regulation set out the indications for the legal termination of pregnancy - medical, moral - ethical (in the case of incest and rape) and socio medical, and specified the persons who were authorized to approve the termination of pregnancy as well as the institutions where abortions should take place. In an attempt to restrain the practice of illegal abortions, but still not ready to change the legislative framework, the authorities took the path of least resistance, putting a pressure on doctors to interpret abortion regulations more flexibly by which the social circumstances of Yugoslavs would be at least partially facilitated. The Family Planning Resolution, passed at the Federal Assembly in April 1969, was an introduction to the complete liberalization of abortion and a kind of a national program that tried to make every child to be born as wanted. The right of parents to decide on the number of children in the family and the gap between childbirths was defined as "one of the basic human rights" which had to be achieved by the use of contraceptives. According to that, a termination of pregnancy was said to be the least desirable form of birth control, which should be resorted to only as a "last resort" when an unintended conception had already occurred.
The national family planning policies managed to decriminalize abortion and, through legalization, allow almost all abortions to be done in gynecological clinics, under optimal medical conditions. Although the Federal Assembly Resolution on Family Planning (1969) established the obligations of society to develop the conditions for acquiring knowledge and to provide the necessary resources for family planning, the results achieved were modest. It turned out that in the modernized Yugoslav society, sex and sexuality were and remained a taboo, and young people, who had already started an intimate relationship, could not obtain adequate knowledge either at school or at home. The number of adolescent pregnancies was increasing year in year out, and abortion remained one of the favored "methods" of family planning. However, despite huge number of abortions, the accurate statistics were missing. According to the incomplete data, the number of abortions reached the approximate number of 350 000 in 1980, which averaged over 900 abortions per 1000 live births. Considering the rate of legal abortions per 1000 women between the ages of 15 and 44, only the Soviet Union was ahead of Yugoslavia, while all other countries had a lower incidence. (Show less)