Cyprus decriminalises abortion

Cypriot parliament passes law with overwhelming majority allowing abortion up to 12 weeks of gestation, 19 weeks in case of rape

The Cypriot parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a law decriminalising abortion
The Cypriot parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a law decriminalising abortion

Cyprus has passed a law decriminalising abortion, after several years of debte on the matter.

On Good Friday last week, the Cypriot parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the law - with 33 votes for, eight against and five abstentions - which allows for the termination of an unwanted pregnancy at up to 12 weeks of gestation, or 19 weeks in the case of rape.

Democratic Rally MP Stella Kyriakidou said that the difference in the maximum term in rape cases was because victims of rape where often not aware they were pregnant until later.

The law requires that, where a minor is concerned, the abortion can only go through if the consent of the girl’s parents or guardian is obtained. The same applies to pregnant women with special needs.

Kyriakidou highlighted that more than 9,000 illegal abortion were taking place in Cyprus each year, with many women and teenagers going to the north of the country to undergo the procedure.

Skevi Koukouma, Working People’s party MP, said that the bill had been on hold for years, since parties were afraid of losing votes and upsetting the archbishop, who was a prominent opponent of abortion.

In October last year, a woman and the doctor who carried out an abortion on her were arrested, putting the spotlight back on the need for the state to legislate on the matter, since it was well-known that abortion had been taking place in the country illegally.

“We are doing what should be obvious so no woman goes to prison for an abortion or puts her own life in danger,” Koukouma was quoted as saying.

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