Cyprus Mail

Presidential candidate calls for widening of access to abortions

A woman’s right to terminate pregnancies should be fully covered by the national health scheme (Gesy), including psychological support, presidential candidate and lawyer Achilleas Demetriades said on Tuesday.

Against the backdrop of a US Supreme Court decision that overturned the constitutional right to abortions nationwide, which the Nicosia-based lawyer branded as “regressive”, Demetriades pushed for the expansion of medical coverage of the procedure in the island.

Over 8,000 women are choosing to terminate their pregnancy per year in Cyprus, the Nicosia-based lawyer said, citing national data.

He added that women’s right to terminate pregnancies up to the first 12 weeks has been legally guaranteed since March 2018 and the state is obliged to support the choice of every woman.

He proposed the expansion of abortions’ medical coverage under Gesy, adding that women should also be offered psychological support through the scheme.

But to date, Gesy only covers abortions for women who can prove the pregnancy causes them mental or physical harm.

Since the integration of gynaecologists into the national health scheme, some 65 abortions have been carried out between June 2020 and March 2021, all due to health issues. The data were made available following a request by Green Party leader Charalambos Theopemptou in March last year.

Under the current legislation, abortions are allowed for all women prior to the completion of the first 12 weeks, or in case the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest for up to 19 weeks in the pregnancy.

The termination of pregnancy is also permitted if a competetent doctor proves indication of abnormalities of the foetus which result in pathological problems, or in case the pregnancy is a risk of serious harm to the physical or mental health of the woman.

In case the pregnancy concerns a minor or a person with mental disability, the consent form needs to signed by a parent or guardian.

According to the European abortion policies atlas Cyprus scored 59 out of 100 points, along with Romania, while the north scored 44 per cent. The country with the best legal framework was Sweden with 94 points. Andorra and Malta scored 0.

Published September 2021, the atlas ranked 52 countries based on criteria such as the type of procedures that are carried out and the level of information available.

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