Abortion law in Lithuania – Liberal law is constantly at stake

From advertising bans to conscience clauses – the abortion law within the EU shows some enormous differences. Medical professionals who do not perform abortions should also be aware of the regulations in order to be able to advise patients with corresponding concerns in accordance with the law. In a three-part series of articles, we give an overview based on the examples of Poland, Lithuania and Germany.

Lithuania has a comparatively liberal right to terminate pregnancies. Abortion on request is generally legal in Lithuania before the end of the 12th week of pregnancy. According to the Lithuanian Penal Code, only abortion is punishable if it

  • is performed by personnel not authorised for this procedure and/or in the presence of contradictions or not in a medical facility
  • is carried out against the will of the woman

A pregnancy may only be aborted by doctors with special approval.

From the 12th week of pregnancy onwards, abortion is only permitted if there is an actual risk to the life and health of the woman. Abortion is possible by suction or scraping. However, the drug abortion method is not allowed in Lithuania.

The potential damage to a woman’s health caused by abortion and the physical and moral harm to both spouses must be explained to the woman (and preferably her spouse) before a referral for abortion is given. Women must confirm their decision to terminate their pregnancy in writing before terminating the pregnancy.

The abortion of pregnancies after the 12th week of pregnancy may only be carried out in one of the two perinatological central clinics of the country.

If the abortion is performed for medical reasons, it is covered by the Lithuanian health insurance fund. In the case of abortion on request, the costs must be borne by the patient.

Doctors may point out (e.g. on their website) which services they provide with regard to abortion — even with a fee.

There are always individual efforts in Lithuania to tighten the abortion law. In 2018, after 2013, a draft law was submitted to the Lithuanian parliament for the second time, making abortions a punishable offence and being stricter in its scope than in Poland. According to the draft law of 2018, abortion would be prohibited, except in rare cases:

  • if the pregnancy would endanger the life or health of the pregnant woman, or
  • there were reasonable grounds for suspecting that the woman had become pregnant as a result of rape

According to the draft, an abortion would only be permitted under the above conditions if no more than 12 weeks have elapsed since the beginning of the pregnancy. The draft was rejected by the Lithuanian Parliament.

Sources:
Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania

Decree No. 50 of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Lithuania of 28 January 1994 “Regarding the procedure for termination of pregnancy”

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