ATHENS – With the potential overturning of a Federal right to abortion being in the spotlight in the United States these days, the issue seems to have caused intense concern in international public opinion as well. How familiar is the average Greek with the issues of abortion and the right to abortion in Greece? What is the opinion of Greek citizens on the possibility that U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade?
“I believe that in order to bring a child into the world you have to meet certain criteria, such as a healthy family situation, financial stability, a healthy environment for the child, etc. But many times accidents happen and the woman in question may not have the ability to raise the child she is about to bring into the world. So it’s her choice whether to keep it or not,” Eleni Tsohatzi told The National Herald. She added that she supports the right of abortion in order to, among other things, protect a child from a potentially undignified life. “Besides, if an abortion is performed in the first few months of conception, the embryo has not had time to develop, so it is not a ‘murder’ as many claim,” she concluded.
Also complaining about the possible decision of the U.S. Supreme Court was G.K., a health worker. She said, “I strongly disagree with the proposed U.S. law on the ban on abortion,” – which is how the issue has been presented by much of the Greek media – “as a woman may have been a victim of rape, may have been abused, may not be able to raise a child on her own, may be living in a problematic environment herself, may be a sex worker or a drug addict, or a patient with a serious, incurable, or psychiatric disease. For all these and many other reasons, I believe that every woman should have the right to self-determination of her body.”
She added, however, that young people should be educated and informed about contraception, in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies and to reduce the number of women who end up having an abortion, as this method entails risks for the woman herself.
While politicians and public figures in the United States are taking a stand for the right of abortion as a way of countering the possible overturning of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, legal expert Iliana Papacharalambous said, “indeed, there is an intense debate about the moral and legal aspects of abortion in various countries of the World. Taking into account the arguments put forward by the proponents of both views (for and against artificial termination of pregnancy), I am in favor of abortion in cases where it is not an unfair act according to Article 304 of the Greek Penal Code. In addition, according to Article 5 of the Greek Constitution on the free development of personality and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the relevant case law of the Strasbourg Court, it would be possible to conclude that the protection provided to the embryo is significantly limited by the rights of the mother, since its existence is inseparably linked to the woman who carries it. Therefore, she has the right to decide whether or not to terminate her pregnancy,”
Papacharalambous added that the absolute ban or limited legalization of abortion in various countries of the world – citing the United States and Poland – would result in the performance of unsafe abortions without meeting the legal requirements, would endanger woman’s life and health, and would violate her intrinsic and inalienable dignity.
There are also clearly opposing views, which was strongly expressed to TNH by Christina. “Humans as autonomous, individual personalities do not have the authority to decide on the termination of life, neither their own nor that of anyone else,” she stated, adding, “the highest good of life was given by God and it is a sin to take it away from a human being, just as it is in the case of suicide or murder.”
Calling the issue a matter of bioethics, she pointed out, among other things, the possibility of giving the child up for adoption in cases of unwanted pregnancy. Moreover, underlining the unacceptability of the act for her, she stressed that there are many cases of such pregnancies at a young age (12-17 years old), where girls without the necessary maturity and experience decide to have an abortion under psychological pressure or even facing violence.