Austria: Court Victory Against Extreme Anti-Abortionists
LAST MONTH a Viennese court made a final ruling in favour of Claudia Sorger, the spokesperson for women's affairs of the Socialist Left Party (SLP, the Austrian section of the CWI) in a case brought by extreme anti-abortionists.
Sonja Grusch, SLP, Vienna
The chairman of Human Life International (HLI) Austria, Dietmar Fischer, took legal action against Claudia Sorger because she explained in an article the extreme methods of anti-abortionists, HLI.
The court confirmed the verdict of a lower court that the SLP is right to say that HLI uses terror, psychological terror, lies, intimidation and that the head of an abortion clinic was faced with death threats.
In the 1990s, the extreme anti-abortionists started their campaigning work in Austria. They stood in front of clinics, took photos of women and pro-choice activists going into the clinics and called these women "murderers".
The SLP took up this issue, organising protests against the activities of HLI, especially those they organised in front of a clinic in Vienna called 'Lucina'. This clinic was a special target of HLI. The HLI bought the building that houses the clinic, tried to evict the clinic through a court case (which failed), and picketed the clinic on a daily basis. The SLP, in order to defend the right of women to have an abortion, needed to defend this clinic. This meant a three-year long campaign.
HLI has powerful friends
Despite this court decision, the HLI activists will continue with their activities. They have supporters in the ranks of the church and in both the government parties in Austria. Their ideology goes hand-in-hand with the social cuts that are implemented by the government and by the government's policy of trying to force women back into the role of staying at home and having children.
The right to obtain an abortion has existed since 1975 in Austria, but in recent years it has become increasingly necessary to defend this fundamental women's right.
An important effect of the SLP campaign is that the social democrat-run Vienna city council has had to reduce the prices of abortions in the city's public hospitals. Although this is an important improvement, it is still extremely difficult to have an abortion in a public hospital.
We demand that every public hospital must make available the opportunity for abortions in special departments. The cost of abortion must be covered by regular health insurance.
As the Lucina clinic may possibly go bankrupt, the clinic has to be taken into public ownership, so that women can still have access to abortion services. More of those centres should be established in other areas
Contraception has to be given out free on demand, and in all schools there should be comprehensive sex education. The health system has to be fully publicly owned, under the democratic control and planning of working people.