Mandatory waiting periods and biased abortion counseling in Central and Eastern Europe

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2017 Nov;139(2):253-258. doi: 10.1002/ijgo.12288. Epub 2017 Aug 22.


Several Central and Eastern European countries have recently enacted retrogressive laws and policies introducing new preconditions that women must fulfill before they can obtain legal abortion services. Mandatory waiting periods and biased counseling and information requirements are particularly common examples of these new prerequisites. The present article considers these requirements in light of international human rights standards and public health guidelines, and outlines the manner in which, by imposing regressive barriers on women's access to legal abortion services, these new laws and policies undermine women's health and well-being, fail to respect women's human rights, and reinforce harmful gender stereotypes and abortion stigma.

Keywords: Abortion; Abortion counseling; Central and Eastern Europe; Discrimination; Human rights; Informed consent; Waiting periods.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal / ethics
  • Abortion, Legal / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Counseling*
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Gynecology / ethics
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health Services*
  • Obstetrics / ethics
  • Pregnancy
  • Time Factors
  • Waiting Lists*