Abortion Laws in Cyprus
The issue of abortion has long been a contentious and debated topic worldwide. In Cyprus, abortion laws have evolved over time. In this article, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the most recent amendments to the Abortion Laws which came in force in 2018, the services we offer to clients, and the legal procedures surrounding the issue.
The Evolution of Abortion Laws in Cyprus
Historically, abortion was illegal in Cyprus, with the exception of cases in which the pregnant person’s life was in danger. However, significant changes occurred in 1974, 1986, and most recently in 2018, which reformed the abortion laws in the country.
A. The Termination of Pregnancy Law of 1974
In 1974, Cyprus enacted the Termination of Pregnancy Law, which allowed abortions to be performed under certain circumstances. According to this law, abortions could be carried out if:
- The pregnancy was a result of rape, defilement, or incest, provided that the procedure took place within 28 weeks of gestation.
- There was a significant risk that the baby would be born with severe physical or mental abnormalities.
- The pregnant person’s physical or mental health was at risk due to the pregnancy.
B. The Amended Termination of Pregnancy Law of 1986
In 1986, the Cypriot parliament amended the Termination of Pregnancy Law, expanding the circumstances under which abortions could be legally performed. The 1986 amendment permitted abortions:
- If there was a risk of severe psychological distress to the pregnant person.
- In cases where the pregnant person had not yet reached the age of 16 and was considered unable to provide adequate care for the child.
C. The Abortion Law Amendments of 2018
The Abortion Law Amendments of 2018 marked a significant milestone in the evolution of abortion laws in Cyprus. This progressive legislation further liberalised the legal framework surrounding abortion, prioritising the well-being and autonomy of pregnant individuals. The main provisions and implications of the 2018 Abortion Law Amendments are detailed below.
Key Provisions of the Abortion Law Amendments of 2018
- Abortion on Request
The 2018 law permits abortion on request within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, without the need to provide specific reasons or justifications. This provision recognises the right of pregnant individuals to make decisions about their bodies and reproductive health without undue interference.
- Extended Timeframe for Rape or Incest Cases
In cases where the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, the 2018 law allows abortions up to 19 weeks. This extension acknowledges the potential trauma associated with such cases and provides additional time for the pregnant person to make an informed decision.
- Extended Timeframe for Fetal Abnormalities:
If there is a risk of severe fetal abnormalities, the 2018 law permits abortions up to 24 weeks. This provision reflects an understanding that the discovery of fetal abnormalities may occur later in pregnancy and provides an opportunity for the pregnant person to make a decision based on comprehensive medical information.
Implications of the Abortion Law Amendments of 2018
The 2018 Abortion Law has several notable implications for reproductive rights and abortion access in Cyprus:
- Greater Autonomy for Pregnant Individuals
By allowing abortion on request within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the 2018 law grants pregnant individuals the autonomy to make decisions about their reproductive health without being subject to external scrutiny or judgment.
- Improved Access to Safe and Legal Abortion Services
By broadening the circumstances under which abortions are legally permitted, the 2018 law enhances access to safe and legal abortion services, reducing the risks associated with unsafe and illegal abortions.
- Acknowledgment of Trauma and Fetal Abnormalities
The extended timeframes for abortion in cases of rape, incest, or severe fetal abnormalities demonstrate a heightened understanding of the challenges pregnant individuals may face under such circumstances, and provide additional support for making informed decisions.
- Strengthened Reproductive Rights
The Abortion Law Amendments of 2018 reflects a more progressive stance on reproductive rights in Cyprus, empowering pregnant individuals to make decisions about their bodies and reproductive health.
Legal Procedures for Abortion in Cyprus
The legal procedures for obtaining an abortion in Cyprus under the 2018 Abortion Law Amendments are as follows:
- Abortion on Request (up to 12 weeks)
For abortion on request within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the pregnant person should consult with a registered medical practitioner in a licensed facility, such as a hospital or clinic. A mandatory waiting period of 72 hours is required before the procedure can take place to ensure the pregnant person has had ample time to consider their decision. The medical practitioner should also provide information about alternatives to abortion, including adoption and parenting resources.
- Abortion in Cases of Rape or Incest (up to 19 weeks)
In cases where the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, the pregnant person must provide a sworn affidavit or other relevant evidence to support their claim. This may include police reports, medical records, or statements from witnesses or professionals familiar with the case. The pregnant person should consult with a registered medical practitioner in a licensed facility, and a mandatory waiting period of 72 hours is also required in these cases. After the waiting period, the abortion can be performed by the medical practitioner.
- Abortion Due to Severe Fetal Abnormalities (up to 24 weeks)
If there is a risk of severe fetal abnormalities, the pregnant person must obtain medical certifications from two doctors confirming the presence of such abnormalities. The pregnant person should consult with a registered medical practitioner in a licensed facility, and the abortion can be performed after the mandatory waiting period of 72 hours.
- Abortion for Health Reasons (any stage of pregnancy)
If the pregnant person’s physical or mental health is at risk due to the pregnancy, they must obtain medical certifications from two doctors confirming the health risk. The pregnant person should consult with a registered medical practitioner in a licensed facility, and the abortion can be performed without a waiting period in these cases, as the health risk may necessitate immediate action.
- Post-Abortion Care
After the abortion, the pregnant person may be required to attend follow-up appointments with their medical practitioner to ensure their physical and mental well-being. The medical practitioner should provide information on post-abortion care, including contraception options and counselling services, if necessary.
The Abortion Law Amendments of 2018 have significantly expanded the circumstances under which abortions can be legally performed in Cyprus, prioritising the well-being and autonomy of pregnant individuals. Our law firm offers comprehensive services related to abortion laws in Cyprus, including legal consultation, representation in court, assistance with medical certifications, and advocacy for policy reform. By working with our experienced team, clients can feel confident in their understanding of their rights and the legal process surrounding abortion in Cyprus.