Abortions will be carried out as a private service at the Bregenz State Hospital from the end of November. State Governor Markus Wallner (ÖVP) announced this on Wednesday. It was not possible to find a solution in a private practice. At the same time, there will be an expanded on-site advisory service for unintentionally pregnant women.
At the same time as the appointment for the operation preparation, the women receive an appointment for a voluntary free consultation from the Institute for Social Services (IfS) next door to the medical preparation meeting. State Health Councilor Martina Rüscher (ÖVP) emphasized that no one will be forced to take the advice, but it was important to the state, as the hospital’s sponsor, to make access to it as low-threshold as possible. The existing offers in the advice centers will remain in place.
Do everything you can to “yes to the child”.
At the beginning of the press conference, Wallner expressly emphasized that protecting life was particularly important to him personally and that everything should be done to make a “yes to child” possible in Vorarlberg. In his personal opinion, a solution outside of the hospital would have been more desirable, but it should also be noted that all efforts to find a private practice were unsuccessful. In Vorarlberg, offering no possibility of implementing the deadline solution is not an option. The decision to offer the hospital was not made lightly; after all, it also involves ethical questions and the protection of life. On the other hand, women should not be left out in the cold in difficult situations.
From his point of view, the political condition for allowing abortions in hospitals, in addition to the on-site consultation, was that the abortion was neither a free nor a health insurance service. The costs of 720 euros are to be paid privately, which is a cost-covering tariff. There will be no subsidies from the health department. The country assumes approximately 250 to 300 surgical abortions per year.
Implementation for doctors is voluntary
Performing the abortions is voluntary for the doctors at the Bregenz State Hospital, said Primary Michael Rohde, head of gynecology and obstetrics at the Bregenz and Dornbirn hospitals. It is of course a difficult task, so every doctor probably has a problem with it, and he is happy that there is follow-up care for the doctors who perform it. But it is just as much a part of the subject as the beautiful pages. He sees the advice given to women, even after the decision has been made, as very important and welcomes it. Representatives of the advice centers IfS and reisen.li emphasized that their advice was about finding the right solution for every woman in an open-ended and value-neutral manner.
Rüscher did not consider it necessary to set up a restricted zone around the hospital. On the one hand, it is not possible to tell who is visiting the hospital for an abortion; there are no fixed times for this. On the other hand, house rules apply to the areas directly in front of the house. Demonstrations have already been announced for public areas.
Unlike most other federal states, Vorarlberg’s hospitals have not yet offered abortions. The only point of contact was a private doctor from Bregenz who is about to retire. According to the state’s considerations, abortions should in future take place in the staff dormitory next to the Bregenz state hospital; as a temporary solution, it was planned to use an annex of the Bregenz hospital for abortions. This caused great public excitement. The plans were canceled.
Abortions are now being offered regularly in hospitals after apparently no other option could be found despite intensive efforts.
Health Minister welcomes decision
The Green Health Minister Johannes Rauch, formerly a member of the Vorarlberg state government, welcomed the fact that “abortions in hospitals are finally possible in Vorarlberg” and that there is therefore easy and safe access. His Vorarlberg party colleagues, State Health Councilor Katharina Wiesflecker and club chairwoman Eva Hammerer welcomed the decision as an “important and right step for the right to self-determination and the health of women in Vorarlberg”.
In a press release, SPÖ chairman Mario Leiter said he was “proud that the state government gave in to our pressure today.” The SPÖ Vorarlberg held a press conference on the topic in the morning. The managing SPÖ club chairman Manuela Auer and NEOS club chairman Johannes Gasser saw a milestone in self-determination. Criticism of Wallner came from the Freedom Party: He had “made a complete about-face” and “fell over,” said Vorarlberg FPÖ family spokeswoman Andrea Kerbleder. She welcomes the free psychosocial advice, as requested by the FPÖ.
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