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Abortion pill under fire

May 24th, 2012

In a right-wing daily a columnist protests against the prohibition of the abortion pill. Women’s organizations also rally against the ban while pro-life politicians and activists describe the pill as ‘poisonous.’

The National Drug Authority in Hungary officially registered the abortion pill in Hungary last week. KDNP politicians, however, called for a ban on its use, and the Ministry of Human Resources issued a statement explaining that there are professional arguments against its introduction.  Abortion is legal in Hungary up to the 12th week of pregnancy, although women must first attend formal but mandatory counselling before going ahead with an abortion. The number of abortions performed in Hungary is declining slowly. The State Secretary responsible for health told Parliament on Monday that the registration of the pill was an international obligation, but its actual use has not been authorised. Critics contend that while the government can forbid the National Heath Fund from subsidising the abortion pill, it cannot prevent it from being sold or administered. Pro-life organisations have staged demonstrations against the pill.

In a passionate piece in Magyar Hírlap, Orsolya Péntek accuses male politicians of creating an artificial scandal that has nothing to do with the actual merits or dangers of the abortion pill. Men banning the pill in actual fact vote for other, more invasive techniques – she suggests, and advises men to try all such procedures for themselves before taking a decision. The issue of abortion is not simply a legal or religious matter, Péntek warns, and criticizes political discussions which have no place to consider why women choose to end a pregnancy. The threat of unemployment, financial insecurity, the shortage of childcare institutions and inadequate maternity benefits contribute far more to such decisions than the methods available, she argues.

Women’s NGOs follow a similar argument in their press release. They find the reference to purported professional debates puzzling, and claim that international organizations as well as gynaecologists around the world support the pill as a less potentially harmful intervention. They warn that spreading misinformation will only lead to more dangerous abortion methods, rather than to a decline in the number of abortions.