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Accepted Paper:

Lobbying for the unborn: anti-abortion discourses in contemporary Romania  
Lorena Anton (University of Bucharest)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the controversies surrounding abortion in Romania, by analyzing the main pro-life actors and their discourses, and the way they challenge the contemporary understanding of reproductive rights.

Paper long abstract:

Reproduction control (1966-1989) in communist Romania is considered to have been one of the most repressive political demographies in twentieth century Europe. First day after Ceaușescu's trial and execution, the new Romanian government legalized abortion on request. Since the early 1990s, many changes have occurred in post-communist abortion governance, both in legislation and associated healthcare. For example, the (first) National Network of Family Planning was created in 1994, and in 2003 the Patient Rights Law established, in its Reproductive Rights Chapter, that 'the right of the woman to decide whether or not to have a child is guaranteed' (article 28).

Nevertheless, more and more controversies surrounding abortion legislation have occurred in recent years, on the background of a massive demographic decline and the rise of religious influence in contemporary society. Since 2009, regular Marches for Life have been organized in Romania's major cities, and a growing number of pro-life groups are developing strong anti-abortion campaigns, especially online. As a direct consequence, more and more cases of conscientious objection are reported among the medical practitioners. This practice, not officially regulated, is strongly supported by BOR (the Romanian Orthodox Church).

Drawing on the partial results of a long-term ethnography (2013-2017) concerning reproduction control in post-communist Romania, I show that anti-abortion group's lobby is challenging women's reproductive rights, as their discourses starts to gain serious influence in the public arena, especially for the young generation who did not experience Ceausescu's abortion ban.

Panel P019
Emerging contestations of abortion rights: new hierarchies, political strategies, and discourses at the intersection of rights, health and law
  Session 1