Contraception, sterilization, abortion, and artificial insemination, Law No. 1252-1978 of April 21, 1978 on health measures to implement the right to a free decision regarding the birth of children (Narodne Novine, May 4, 1978, No. 18 at 423-426), Articles 1-2, 15-28, 35-38 &, 41-44.*
In order to implement the right of all persons to a free decision regarding the birth of children, this Law shall regulate the rights and duties of citizens with regard to the prevention of unwanted conception, the termination of unwanted pregnancy, and medical assistance to persons who for health reasons cannot realize their wish to have children of their own.
The right of persons to a free decision regarding the birth of children may be restricted only on grounds of health protection and subject to the conditions and in the manner proscribed by this Law.
Part III. TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY
Termination of pregnancy is a medical procedure.
Pregnancy may be terminated up to ten weeks following the date of conception
After ten weeks have elapsed since the date of conception, pregnancy may be terminated only with the authorization of a Commission and subject to the conditions and in accordance with the procedure prescribed by this Law.
Pregnancy may not be terminated if it is demonstrated that this could seriously harm the woman's health.
Pregnancies may be terminated in hospitals possessing an organized department of gynecology and obstetrics as well as in other associated labor organizations in the health sector specially authorized for the purpose by the Republic administrative agency responsible for matters of health.
Pregnancy shall be terminated on application by the pregnant woman. In case of an application for pregnancy termination submitted by a minor under 16 years of age, the consent of her parents or, subject to the approval of the guardianship authority, her guardian shall be required.
The pregnant woman shall submit her application for pregnancy termination to an associated labor organization in the health sector which carries out pregnancy terminations, in accordance with her own choice.
If the conditions for terminating the pregnancy are met, the pregnant woman shall be referred to the physician who is to carry out the termination.
Where it is established that 10 weeks have elapsed since the date of conception or that a pregnancy termination might seriously harm the woman's health, the pregnant woman shall be referred to the First Level Commission.
If the circumstances referred to in the first paragraph of this Section concern a minor who has reached the age of 16 and is not married, her parents or her guardian shall be informed that she has been referred to the First Level Commission.
In the case referred to in the second paragraph of article 19 of this Law, the pregnancy may be terminated immediately after the pregnant women presents herself to the physician who is to carry out the termination, and in the case referred to in the first paragraph of article 20 of this Law, the pregnancy shall be terminated immediately after the first level commission has given its authorization and in any case not later than seven days after the date of such authorization.
After 10 weeks have elapsed since the date of conception, the first level commission may authorize a pregnancy termination, with the consent of or on application by the pregnant woman, in the following cases:
− where, on the basis of medical indications, it is established that there is no other way to save the life or avert damage to the health of the woman during pregnancy, childbirth, or the puerperium,
− where, on the basis of medical indications and medical knowledge, it may be supposed that the child will be born with severe congenital physical or mental defects,
− where conception occurred as a result of rape, intercourse with an incompetent person, intercourse through abuse of authority, intercourse with a child, or incest.
The application procedure for pregnancy termination is urgent.
The first level commission must reach a decision regarding an application for pregnancy termination within eight days following receipt of the application.
A pregnant woman who is not satisfied with the decision of the first level commission may lodge an appeal with the second level commission within three days.
The second level commission must reach a decision regarding an appeal against the decision of the first level commission within eight days following the receipt of the appeal.
The decision of the second level commission regarding applications for pregnancy termination are final.
Notwithstanding the conditions of procedure hereby described, the abortion will be performed or completed under the following conditions:
− where immediate danger is present to the life or health of the pregnant woman,
− when the abortion has already been started.
In cases described in the first paragraph of this Article, the abortion will be performed in such a medical organization of associated labor that usually performs abortions, but under exceptional circumstances, this abortion may be performed in other medical organizations of associated labor.
The medical organization of associated labor must within 30 days after the abortion notify the fact of the abortion to the authority having jurisdiction over medical statistics.
If the completion of an already started abortion gives rise to a suspicion that the abortion has been started contrary to the provisions of this Act, the responsible person in the medical organization of associated labor in which the abortion has been completed must immediately notify the prosecutorial authority having jurisdiction over the matter,
The organization of associated labor in which the abortion is performed must use the most modern medical methods available for the performance of this operation. The medical organization in the preceding paragraph must ensure that the woman on whom the abortion has been performed will prolong (if necessary for the purposes of convalescence) her sojourn in this medical organization of associated labor.
V. THE ESTABLISHMENT AND WORK OF THE COMMISSIONS
The commission of first instance, with jurisdiction over the requests for sterilization or abortion respectively, is composed of two physicians, of whom one is to be a gynecologist and one a social worker or registered nurse, who shall work in the medical organization of associated labor which is to perform the sterilization or abortion. The Commission of First Instance is established by the medical organization of associated labor which is to perform the sterilization or abortion.
The commission of second instance which, within the meaning of Articles 13 and 24, decides on appeal the decision of the commission of first instance, is to be composed of two gynecologists (with one a specialist in that branch of medicine concerned with medical indications that are the substance of the request for sterilization or abortion), one social worker, and one judge, who is, upon the request of the authorized medical organization of associated labor, nominated by the president of the County Court having jurisdiction over the territory in which the respective medical organization is registered. The Commission mentioned in the first paragraph of this Article, is established by the medical organization of associated labor which is for this purpose especially authorized by the republican authority having jurisdiction over medical questions.
The Commissions referred to in Articles 35 and 36 of this Act work in conference, their decisions are by majority vote.
The Commission may, in view of its need for medical expertise and opinion, refer the petitioner to an appropriate medical organization of associated labor in order for the facts upon which the decision has to based to be properly ascertained.
VI. FEES AND EXPENSES
The fees for the medical services connected with medical operations anticipated by this Act are to be established on the basis of criteria agreed upon in the framework of the Union of Associations of Medical Insurance and Health of Croatia by self-management interest communities of medical insurance and health.
The expenses for abortion are to be paid by the pregnant woman unless the self-managerial interest community of medical insurance and health provides differently.
If the abortion is being performed for the reasons set forth in Article 22 of this Act, or in cases of unwanted pregnancy of those women that use intrauterine contraceptive devices, the expenses for abortion are to be defrayed by the self-management interest community of medical insurance and health.
If a pregnant woman is in such a financial situation that she needs social security protection, the expenses for abortion will be paid by the self-management interest community of social protection in the county of the territory where the pregnant woman resides under the conditions and in the mode ascertained by a self-management general act.
VII. PENAL PROVISIONS
A fine of not less than 2,000 and not more than 10,000 dinars will be imposed for a transgression upon the medical organization of associated labor if:
1. it performs a sterilization, abortion, or artificial insemination which it is not authorized (articles 14, 17, 31) to perform,
2. it performs a sterilization or abortion without a previous decision of a Commission when such a decision is necessary (Articles 13, 20, 21),
3. it does not ensure the secrecy of data concerning the identities of the donor of semen, the artificially inseminated woman, or her husband (Article 32).
These transgressions set forth in paragraph 1 of this article by an individual medical worker will be punished by a fine of no less than 500 and no more than 3,000 dinars if an unauthorized sterilization, abortion or artificial insemination is performed by such worker.
A fine of no less than 1,000 and no more than 5,000 dinars will be imposed, for a transgression, upon a medical organization of associated labor which within 30 days after it performs a sterilization or an abortion does not notify the competent authority (article 14, paragraph 2 and article 26).
The responsible person in the medical organization of associated labor who commits the misdemeanor described in paragraph 1 of this Article will be punished by a fine of at least 500 and at most 1,000 dinars.
The responsible person in a medical organization of associated labor in which an abortion already begun is completed and a suspicion is present that such an abortion had been begun contrary to the provisions of this Act, without such suspicion being immediately reported to the competent prosecutorial authority (article 27), will be punished for this transgression by a fine of no less than 1,000 and no more than 3,000 dinars.
* Translation adapted from the World Health Organization's International Digest of Health Legislation (Vol. 30) (1979) and Harvard University School of Public Health's Annual Review of Population Law website.