Croatian MP Sparks Debate on Women’s Healthcare

Croatia’s Health Minister survived a no-confidence vote on Friday – but the issue of women’s healthcare has been thrust into the spotlight after an MP shared her own ‘painful’ experience of the hospital system.

Croatia’s Minister of Health, Milan Kujundzic, has retained his position after a no-confidence vote on Friday failed to unseat him.

However, MP Ivana Nincevic Lesandric’s personal story of having an abortion in a Croatian hospital, which she shared in parliament on Thursday, has revived a public debate on the state of women’s health care.

Nincevic Lesandric, from the centre-right MOST [Bridge] party, explained the “extremely painful” procedure she underwent in which doctors allegedly tied her hands and legs before performing a curettage to remove tissues from inside the uterus – without anesthesia. She described the conditions as from the “15th century”.

“This was the 30 most painful minutes of my life,” Nincevic Lesandric added, claiming that many Croatian women have experienced this.

“I sincerely regret that the loss of a child occurred,” Kujundzic said, saying that he did not know the specific data about this procedure, but added that “it does not work like that in Croatian hospitals”.

Iva Davorija and Marinella Matejcic from the Platform for Women’s Reproductive Rights said on Friday that Croatian society’s traditional and patriarchal values made it hard to talk in public about reproductive rights outside the context of giving birth.

They were referring to the reaction of Parliament Speaker Goran Jandrokovic, who during Thursday’s session told Nincevic Lesandric that she was talking about “an intimate thing” and that she had put him into “a very uncomfortable situation.”

“The fact that the speaker of parliament allows himself to condemn the personal, intimate story of Ivana Nincevic Lesandric, and to place himself as a victim of the whole situation, is confirmation of the earlier claims of a traditional patriarchal society,” Matejcic said.

“Croatia is also an incredibly disordered state,” Davorija told BIRN.

She said Kujundzic should long ago “have taken responsibility for his own sector and perhaps even stepped down”.

She said also that Prime Minister Andrej] Plenkovic ought to “show a minimum of interest in what is happening in parliament, while the speaker of parliament should know how to gauge when it is time to rely on the rulebook, and when there is an urgent need to start work on solving a major problem.”

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