A group of feminist associations and initiatives marked the International Day of Action for Women’s Health with a guerrilla action to highlight the fact that women’s reproductive health is much more than the right to abortion. The nighttime action was conducted in several larger cities all over Croatia. We decorated the statues of women in Split, Poreč, Rijeka, Opatija and Zagreb with sashes that had ‘’Our health. Our rights. Our lives!’’ written on them. At the moment, with their existence, they are sending a message that is true today and will be true forever, no matter how much conservative parties try to negate it.
In light of the growing movement looking to ban abortion, all under the disguise of caring for women’s health and demographics we find that it is extremely important to show the public that the discourse about women’s reproductive health does not refer only and exclusively to the termination of pregnancy. Reproductive rights include the right to artificial insemination and the right to a dignified delivery, however those categories are not in the job description of the ‘’pro-life advocates’’. The same goes for the shameful conditions of maternity wards. On the other hand, Croatia has never regulated the option of homebirth for women who wish to have one, despite the requests of women.
The right to an abortion is a woman's human right and it must remain legal and safe.
We should keep in mind all the aspects of women’s health, including pregnancy prevention and availability (or lack thereof) of free hormonal contraception, discriminatory laws which regulate the right to sterilization as a method of permanent contraception, pregnancy itself, delivery and post-partum period. We also find that it is extremely important to speak about violence and discrimination during birth which isn’t recorded in medical documents and women don’t report it out of fear and shame.
The health of trans* people and lesbians isn’t recognized in the system and what they experience is continued discrimination during exercising their right to healthcare. When speaking of women’s health, one must consider all women, not just the ones ‘’fit’’ to continue the Croatian line.
Furthermore, sex and health education in schools is not integrated as a life-skill training based on science and facts, but its implementation is rather subjected to personal interpretations of the teacher, leaving plenty of space for manipulation and indoctrination. Such state is being prolonged indefinitely with this government’s treatment of the new curricular reform and their attempts to implicate politics and impose particular ideological stances, which is also something we use this action to condemn.
To conclude, we would like to remind you of the recommendations of the Anti-Discriminatory Board, with which they ask Croatia to regulate their Appeal of Conscience for their doctors in a way that exercising it would not interfere with a woman’s access to pregnancy termination and the care that follows after it, to ensure autonomy and the making of an informed decision for pregnant women during birth, but also to introduce homebirths for women who want them. In these same recommendations it was suggested that Croatia undertakes measures to allow lesbian and bisexual women, as well as trans* people full use of their basic human rights.
Feminists point out the fact that sexual and reproductive rights are a string of very important human rights which are being institutionally broken and the governing structures are not doing anything to change this situation. All decisions regarding reproductive health are made by the woman, our society should respect it, our state has to guarantee it and religion should not interfere with it.