Abortion culture in Serbia

Mirjana Rasevic, Institute of Social Sciences, Belgrade
Katarina Sedlecky, Mother and Child Health Care Institute, Belgrade

The large number of abortions carried out in Serbia was first highlighted at the Congress of physicians, in 1935. The estimated number of induced abortions in Serbia today (excluding Kosovo and Metohia) is about 150,000 abortions per year or 90.5 per 1,000 women aged 15-49. To investigate the causes of the persistently high abortion rate in Serbia, we analysed the legal aspect of abortion, related health care regulations and policies, and social environment, as potential primary factors, and knowledge, attitudes and practice of health care providers and clients, as potential secondary determinants. Research findings discovered a complex array of factors accounted for the high abortion prevalence. The main ones are easy access to induced abortion coupled with substantial obstacles to efficient use of contraception, insufficient relevant knowledge about modern contraception among women and men in need and health care providers, a firm social basis for traditional birth control, a resistance to modern contraceptives, and limitations in the family planning programme. Most of them may be classified as a part of traditional or even abortion culture. The persistence of a high abortion rate in Serbia appears to be due to many underlying causes, which have changed little over time. The future of abortion problem in Serbia will depend on the introduction and acceptance of a modern concept of family planning on the political, educational and health care level. Such changes would enable individuals and couples to make informed birth control decisions, with the support of health care professionals and a full-range of modern contraceptive methods available.

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Presented in Session 84: Sexual and reproductive health: abortion