Accepted paper:

For the good of the nation? Abortion politics during Ceaușescu's Romania


Lorena Anton (University of Bucharest)

Paper short abstract:

Reproduction control in Ceausescu’s Romania is considered to have been one of the most repressive demographic politics in the 20th century Europe. This paper presents the abortion politics of that period, in order to discuss the lack of public protest towards the pronatalist policies of the communist regime.

Paper long abstract:

In communist Romania, draconian pronatalist policies were developed from 1966 to 1989 in the name of the socialist nation and its needs. Besides the lack of modern contraception, voluntary pregnancy interruptions (previously legalized in 1957) were forbidden and severely punished under the Penal Code. First day after Ceaușescu's trial and execution on December 25, 1989, the new Romanian government legalized abortion on request (in the first trimester of pregnancy and under the supervision of the medical profession). In order to understand the lack of public protest concerning pronatalist policies and the development of underground abortion practices, this paper tackles the official construction of pregnancy-interruptions as 'a social plague' and women's memories about this period of time. The analysis is based on long-term oral history and archival research (2005-2009) which addressed the issue of different forms of the memory of abortion in Ceausescu's Romania.

panel P22
Health and wellbeing in post-war Europe: the contentious issue of abortion