A cynical coincidence: three “celebratory days” in September
If it were not so serious, one would readily laugh at this happenstance: on 27th September, we celebrate “World Tourism Day”. It falls exactly between World Contraception Day (26th September) and International Safe Abortion Day (28th September).
In the text explaining the grounds for this celebration, we read: “Tourism brings financial benefits to communities and contributes to positive social, political and cultural development. In short, tourism helps every country, for a better future.”
The keyword "abortion tourism" comes to mind:
We do not even need to look as far as the United States, where, in line with the ruling of the US Supreme Court a few weeks ago, most states are outdoing each other in their restrictions, obstacles and prohibitions with regard to abortion. In Texas, for example, the so-called heartbeat laws apply, which prohibit abortions from just the sixth week of pregnancy, when rhythmic movements can be detected in the precursor of the heart, though a long time still remains before a functional heart is present. What’s more, in the sixth week, most women do not even know that they are pregnant! Many other states have adopted or are currently preparing similar laws. Inland and Southern US states are particularly affected, which means that a "short" trip to an abortion clinic in a neighbouring state is no longer possible. In protest against the verdict, private companies such as Apple, Netflix, Starbucks and others are now paying the costs of travel if their employees have to fly to another state for an abortion.
Even in many European nations, however, women have to undertake "tourist" trips in order to evade the bans that still prevail and the threat of a prison sentence (including in Austria!!), and to obtain a medically safe termination of their pregnancy, or at least free themselves from the paternalism of the state: in Hungary, for example, abortion is, in theory, legal up until the twelfth week, but the woman has to endure two compulsory counselling sessions, wait out a waiting period of 3 days, and, from now on, also listen to the heart sounds of the embryo in her belly beforehand in addition. In other European countries, abortion is not possible at all, for example in Poland, or only under restrictive conditions, like in Germany.
Incidentally, this "tourism" is also a distressing matter of course in Austria for women who live neither in Vienna nor in Salzburg. In Burgenland, and soon also in Vorarlberg, there is no possibility of abortion at all. In other states, eye-watering sums are sometimes demanded (€800). Women therefore need to take a day of holiday at their workplace, accommodate any children with their grandparents or neighbours, fork up money for the trip, the procedure and potentially overnight accommodation, and, on top of that, possibly also come up with a plausible excuse for their absence. The journey leads even further afield for the 100 to 200 women in Austria each year who are denied a late-term abortion by doctors despite dramatic medical grounds: they have to travel to the Netherlands, although the legal position in Austria would allow them to have the procedure.
“Reasons for travelling are usually beautiful weather and relaxation, but also nature and culture,” say the originators of World Tourism Day. This is true, of course, but the proximity of World Tourism Day to World Contraception Day and International Safe Abortion Day can also leave a bitter taste in the mouth: our mothers and grandmothers still painfully remember the “abortion tourism” before the introduction of the legal limit for termination in 1975, when many of them had to travel to Ex-Yugoslavia or Hungary in order to end an unwanted pregnancy. Read more at https://muvs.org/en/topics/termination-of-pregnancy/european-countries-have-abortion-bans-too/.