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What did Nicolae Ceausescu think about abortion?

Born in Scornicesti, Romania, in 1918, Nicolae Ceausescu was a Communist activist from an early age. By the early 1930s, he was affiliated with the Romanian Communist youth movement; however, his actions alongside the movement landed him in jail twice: in 1936 and again in 1940. After a successful escape from prison in 1944, he claimed the title of the secretary of the Union of Communist Youth, only serving a year though. Slowly making the climb towards success, Nicolae Ceausescu became the first president of Romania – and held that title for 15 years. Without a doubt, Ceausescu was a harsh dictator, and his actions towards the subject of abortion perfectly display that. 

In 1957, Romania had removed restrictions surrounding abortion, allowing every woman the right. However, this freedom was short-lived. Towards the end of 1966, Ceausescu had ordered Decree 770, which had restricted any form of abortion or access to contraceptives. Ceausescu’s motive, which was also supported by his own wife (Elena Ceausescu, married in 1939), was to increase the Romanian population. Though, exceptions were made for when cases of rape, incest, and health risks were present. At first, he was seeing what he anticipated: in the first year after the ban, the birthrate in Romania had doubled. Along with that, police would come to workplaces and have women take pregnancy tests. If they had a negative test, they would be forced to pay a “celibacy tax.” Due to these things, women would go to great lengths to illegally have an abortion, which was clearly a crime and resulted in incarceration. With knowledge that this was common, the police of Romania would attempt to search for informants. The risk of knowing an informant placed fear in everybody as they couldn’t know if a friend or family member might land them in prison. Many years later, Romania had seen an incredible spike in maternal deaths from abortion. When abortion was legal in Romania, 20% of maternal deaths were caused by problems during abortion. When it was illegal, 87% of deaths were caused by problems during abortion. So, why does it matter what Nicolae Ceausescu did to Romania’s abortion laws?

Luckily, abortion has been legal in Romania since 1990. A big factor in this overturn was the execution of both Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, which allowed the National Salvation Front to take power and legalize abortion. However, the 23 year ban on abortion had severe consequences. Over that time period, 10,000 had died from complications when trying to obtain the right to choose what happened with her own body. Unfortunately, the United States is starting to see the same effect. Roughly half of the states have placed some sort of restriction on abortion, 14 of them have outright banned it. This was done in a matter of only 1.5 years and changes are still constantly occurring. Romania’s experience with an abortion ban is an exact model of what takes place when the healthcare right is stripped from women.

Breeley Moll, Rogers, 11th Grade, Instagram- @breeley0212

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