Abortion policy



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Austria


ABORTION POLICY



Grounds on which abortion is permitted
To save the life of the woman Yes

To preserve physical health Yes

To preserve mental health Yes

Rape or incest Yes

Foetal impairment Yes

Economic or social reasons Yes

Available on request Yes
Additional requirements
An abortion is available on request during the first three months of pregnancy if performed by a physician after a previous medical consultation. If necessary to avert serious danger to the woman's life or physical or mental health; if a serious danger exists that the child may be afflicted with a serious physical or mental defect; or if the woman is under 14 years of age, an abortion may be performed after the first trimester.

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CONTEXT

Government view of fertility level: Too low


Government intervention concerning fertility level: To raise
Government policy on contraceptive use: Indirect support provided
Percentage of currently married women using

modern contraception (marriage cohorts of 1974 and 1977; 1981/1982): 71


Total fertility rate (1995-2000): 1.4
Age-specific fertility rate (per 1,000 women aged 15-19, 1995-2000): 18
Government has expressed particular concern about:

Morbidity and mortality resulting from induced abortion No

Complications of childbearing and childbirth No
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births; 1990):

National 10

Western Europe 17
Female life expectancy at birth (1995-2000): 80



BACKGROUND


Austria liberalized its abortion law in 1974 through a reform of Sections 96-98 of the Austrian Penal Code (Federal Law of 23 January 1974). An abortion is available on request during the first trimester of pregnancy if performed by a physician after a previous medical consultation. After the first trimester, an abortion is permitted only if performed by a physician when necessary to avert a serious danger, which cannot be avoided by any other means, to the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; when a serious danger exists that the child may be afflicted with a serious physical or mental defect; or when a woman under 14 years of age becomes pregnant. An abortion may be performed at any time during pregnancy by any person when it is carried out to save the pregnant woman from immediate danger to her life, which cannot otherwise be averted, under circumstances in which medical aid was not available in time. An abortion must be performed with the pregnant woman's consent unless it is performed to save the pregnant woman from immediate danger to her life, which cannot otherwise be averted, under circumstances in which the consent of the pregnant woman cannot be obtained in time.
The Federal Law of 1974 was challenged in court on the grounds that it violated provisions of the Austrian Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights protecting human life. However, the Austrian Constitutional Court dismissed the complaint on 11 October 1974, holding that the protection for life guaranteed by the Austrian Constitution applied only to protection from acts performed by public authorities and not to acts of private individuals such as physicians carrying out abortions. It also ruled that the provisions protecting life in the European Convention of Human Rights did not apply to a foetus.
Theoretically, all women have access to legal and risk-free abortion. However, income and availability of services pose important restrictions on access to abortion. The Government subsidizes only those abortions performed on medical grounds. In addition, private clinics charge such high prices that some women find that it is less expensive to go abroad to obtain an abortion. Access is also limited by the fact that many physicians refuse to perform abortions because they object for moral and/or religious reasons.




Source: The Population Policy Data Bank maintained by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. For additional sources, see list of references.


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