Abortion in Georgia: Legal but restricted
Women in Georgia have the legal right to an abortion. But the increased influence of the Georgian Orthodox Church and the government’s anti-abortion stance are forcing them to use lies and subtafuge to find a doctor willing to handle the procedure.
“The doctor warned me not to tell anyone that it was my first child. ‘Whoever asks you about it, say that it’s your second,’ she said. They did ask me about it when we entered the room. I lied and said that it was my second child and the first one was waiting for me at home. I laid down and lost consciousness due to the anesthesia. I remember they didn’t even close the door—I was lying on my side and couldn’t see anyone's face, but I knew that people were walking behind my back and some of them even entered the room. When I woke up, I was told to move on because another girl was waiting. The door was still open and they made me watch another abortion while I was trying to wake up from the anesthesia,” recalls Mariam (her name is changed), who was 20 when she had an abortion.
Georgian law allows abortions until the 12th week of pregnancy. Abortions must be performed by a licensed gynecologist. But doctors can refuse to perform the service if it is against their moral or religious views.
A growing number of doctors and clinics are refusing to provide abortions due to their religious beliefs, according to the Georgian Public Defender’s Study of 2019 about Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
“I was told I had five days to think. I said I had already made my decision. She made me sign a paper confirming that I was giving up the five days the doctor gave me to reconsider my decision. She filed that paper and told me to come the next day. I did so and paid her in cash. She gave me the pills and sent me home, warning me to remember that my abortion was registered at another clinic but I was using this one because it was closer to me," - remembers Ana, 23, from Tbilisi, Georgia.
Gender expert Kvinikadze notes that often women resort to simply asking friends or relatives for advice and end up taking pills that induce contractions, which can be dangerous.The five-day waiting period is another barrier for women, she says.
Material is produced in partnership with the initiative “Real People, Real Vision" funded by Safe Abortion Action Fund.