Serbia Has Highest Abortion Rate In Europe


By Biljana Pekusic

According to official data from the Belgrade Institute of Public Health, 23,000 abortions are performed in Serbia annually, but unofficial data suggests a number as high as 150,000.

In Belgrade alone, 8,000 abortions are performed each year. Most are performed in private clinics, which often do not have permission or report abortions. Out of 187 private gynaecological clinics in Serbia, only 47 have a permit.

“The process for obtaining a license for this intervention is strict and complicated, and many are not worth applying for, so they work illegally. There are clinics that have the necessary permits, yet do not report all abortions,” Dr Boris Vranes of the Institute of Gynaecology and Obstetrics told SETimes.

“For many women in Serbia who already gave birth, abortion is considered a regular means of contraception; they do not apply prevention, but undergo an abortion,” gynaecologist Jovanka Carevic told SETimes.

By law, abortion is permitted at the request of a woman until the 10th week of pregnancy, unless the pregnancy is detrimental to her health. When a woman is under the age of 16, or unable to work, she is required to have the written consent of a parent or guardian for an abortion. However, many women ignore the regulations.

“Women obtain fake medical documentation, for example, a note from a psychiatrist stating she is mentally unstable, in order to end a pregnancy that already entered the 15th week,” Verica Purko, a gynaecological nurse at the Medical Centre in Zajecar says.

Most women are aware that abortion is not a harmless intervention and there are always risks of injury, infection, bleeding, and even permanent sterility.

“We frequently have patients who interrupt pregnancy two or three times. A common case is of women from rural areas that had an unskilled person perform the procedure, and then comes to the hospital in serious condition,” Purko says.

In both private and public clinics, abortions cost 150 to 250 euros.

A large number of abortions are a potential economic threat to Serbia, because due to its aging population the country can expect a low number of work-age adults in the future.

In earlier decades, only young girls opted for abortions. Today, women between the ages of 25 and 34 are having them the most, followed by women between 35 and 44.

Gynaecologist Ilija Stojmenovski, an owner of a private clinic in Belgrade, told SETimes that among the women having abortions are those over 40 with no children.

“Many times I tried to convince the patient to keep the pregnancy, but each was under the conviction that for economic, social or emotional reasons, she cannot. Of the hundreds of abortions I performed, I failed to convince any of them to have a child,” says Stojmenovski.

A difficult financial situation, housing problems, unemployment, divorce, a low level of general health education, along with insufficient activity by health, educational and other institutions in raising the awareness have all contributed to high abortion rates explains sociologist Dragutin Vasic.

“Mass abortions in Serbia have long been assumed at epidemic proportions,” he told SETimes.

In Serbia, the birth rate is 1.44 children per woman, while the EU average is 1.6. To sustain natural population growth the birth rate should be 2.1 children per woman.


The Southeast European Times Web site is a central source of news and information about Southeastern Europe in ten languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, English, Greek, Macedonian, Romanian, Serbian and Turkish. The Southeast European Times is sponsored by the US European Command, the joint military command responsible for US operations in 52 countries. EUCOM is committed to promoting stability, co-operation and prosperity in the region.

One thought on “Serbia Has Highest Abortion Rate In Europe

  • January 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    It is awful and appalling that anyone would abort any baby. There are plenty of people out there willing to adopt children and so there is no excuse. It is an awful practice in modern times and very much like the Holocaust against the Jews. The safest place a baby could be should be in a mother’s womb! What if your parents decided you should be aborted when you were in the womb? Does that change your view of abortion? What is the definition of murder anyway?


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