Besides Luxembourg, Austria is the only country in the EU that does not collect statistical information concerning (“legal”, i.e. non-punishable) abortion.
Such information, in particular concerning the reasons for which women decide to have abortions, would be of paramount importance to help pregnant women in distress. It would help to find solutions that allow them to give birth to their babies.
But the politicians do not want ko know, nor do they want to help. For more than 40 years the country’s Socialist Party, which often gets the greatest number of votes in national elections and is radically pro-abortion, has successfully blocked any attempts to introduce an (anonymized) collection of data concerning abortion. This self-chosen ignorance is convenient, because it allows to make whatever factual claim seems politically useful – either that abortion is not frequent anyway, or that without legalizing abortions there would be tens of thousands of women dying each year from the consequences of botched illegal abortions.
But it seems that this know-nothing-approach is no longer appreciated by the population. More than 50.000 Austrians have signed a formal petition to the National Assembly to collect reliable statistical information. The best and easiest way for doing so would be to oblige obstetricians carrying out (“legal”) abortion to submit an anonymized statement of facts to the public health authorities.
Very encouragingly, one Socialist politician has now come out in favour of this petition: Erwin Buchinger, a former Minister for Employment and Social Affairs, who is currently serving as ombudsman for persons with disabilities. Buchinger, who is himself the father of a child born with a handicap, has also expressed the view that late-term abortions (which in Austria are licit when the fetus is believed to suffer from a handicap) are an “injustice that cries to heaven”.