a1 Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences
In the countries of the former Eastern bloc (and the USSR), abortion politics followed a different historical path than in Western Europe. In Czechoslovakia, abortion was made legal relatively early on, almost as soon as the social and political turmoil that followed World War II and the communist coup in 1948 had settled. Unlike in Western Europe, however, it was not legalized in response to pressure from civil society or the feminist movement. It was a bureaucratic decision made in relation to specific macrosocial and political circumstances. The Czechoslovak Act on Artificial Termination of Pregnancy in 1957 made abortion legal on certain conditions. Special commissions were established and endowed with the authority to decide whether to grant women permission for abortion on demand. The decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy was thus not placed directly in the hands of women.
Radka Dudova is a Researcher at the Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czechoslovakia: email@example.com
This article was written with the support of a grant from the Czech Science Foundation for project no. P404/10/0021 and of the FEMCIT project, financed by the 6th EU Framework Programme (i.n. 028746).