SHARE
COPY LINK

READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: Is abortion legal in Austria?

With the debates on women's rights again in the spotlight worldwide, readers in Austria have asked what the rules are in the alpine country.

People enjoying the sun at the Danube canal in Vienna, Austria on Thursday May 5
People sit in the sun at the Danube canal in Vienna, Austria on May 5, 2022. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The leaked US Supreme court draft document that shows the highest court in the United States is now in favour of overturning the ruling, known as Roe v Wade, which made abortion legal across the country, has brought the issue of reproductive rights back to the centre stage worldwide.

Austria has been put particularly in the spotlight, as Reuters reported that a company headquartered in the country has seen a spike in interest from American women this week.

The company, nonprofit Aid Access provides prescription pills used to terminate pregnancies at home and sends them by mail.

To get around restrictions in some US states, the Austrian-headquartered company works with European doctors who prescribe the abortive pills for patients using a mail-order pharmacy in India.

READ ALSO: Violence against women in the spotlight in Austria after horrific killings

While women in many countries need to go through such schemes or even resort to illegal and dangerous abortion clinics, rules in Austria, where abortion has been legal since 1975, make the procedure much safer for women.

Is abortion legal in Austria?

It is decriminalised. Since 1975, optative abortion is not a crime in Austria. Women can discontinue a pregnancy per choice within the first three months – before the 16th pregnancy week, counting from the date of the last menstrual period.

Women must go through a consultation with a doctor, but they don’t have to disclose the reasons for the abortion. Instead, the consultation will usually decide which abortion method is better for the patient’s case.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which European nations have the highest (and lowest) percentage of women MPs?

The so-called “late abortions”, after 16 weeks, are possible in some instances.

These include if there is a severe danger to the mental health, physical health, or the life of the pregnant woman; if the child is expected to be born with severe mental or physical disabilities; or if the woman was under 14 years of age when she became pregnant.

Teenage pregnancy

Girls in Austria can give their own consent to an abortion from the age of 14. However, some hospitals in Austrian provinces would still require a legal guardian’s consent for minors.

The consent of a legal guardian is also necessary if the adolescent is not legally capable of giving consent (for example, as a result of a learning disability), according to Austrian authorities.

If the girl is under the age of 14, then the consent of a parent or legal guardian is always required before an abortion can be performed.

What are the methods available in Austria?

Women who have decided to have an abortion can do so with a surgical method (usually suction, but curettage is also possible in some cases) or using drugs. This will usually depend on how far along with the pregnancy she is and is decided together with a doctor.

READ ALSO: Does Austria have a problem with violence against women?

The surgical option can be done either in a hospital or an outpatient clinic, with general or local anaesthesia. It is a safe surgical procedure, and women are usually discharged after a few hours.

With a drug-based abortion, doctors use the Mifegyne pill, which has been approved in Austria since 1999 and is considered a very safe and reliable method, especially in early pregnancy. However, the drug must be taken in the presence of a doctor or after written medical order.

Where can women go to get information on abortion?

For information or to get the procedure, women can go to general practitioners, gynaecology clinics, special abortion ambulatory clinics, and gynaecological departments of hospitals.

There are also advice institutions such as family counselling centres and women’s health centres that women can visit to get more information.

Austria has many private women’s clinics that offer advice, do the procedure in a safe environment, or just provide implantation and recommendation for contraception methods.

Most of them will see people seeking abortions without a previous appointment, on short notice, and even on weekends. Most clinics have doctors and receptionists who speak English. They don’t require women to give much personal details or be Austrian citizens or residents.

Who pays for the costs of an abortion?

Optional abortions are not covered by social insurance in Austria and must be paid privately. Costs can range from €550 to €915 for a surgical abortion in Vienna or €535 to €560 for the pharmacological option in the capital.

The costs of abortion will only be covered by social insurance if the abortion is necessary for medical reasons.

READ ALSO: Austria’s top court legalises same-sex marriage

Some municipalities offer financial support through the social welfare office of district authorities, subject to certain conditions.

Is the morning after pill allowed?

Yes. Emergency contraception is not free, though, but can be bought without a prescription in pharmacies or in women’s clinics, which usually open late.

What is “anonymous birth”?

In Austria, there is also the legal possibility of giving birth anonymously, free of charge, in any hospital. The Youth Welfare Office becomes the child’s legal guardian as it is adopted by parents in the system.

This is legal in Austria, and women can follow the route without concern for criminal prosecution – they also don’t need Austrian health insurance or residency. After the birth, women have six months to change their minds and revoke the decision to give up the child.

There are also hospitals in Austria that anonymously care for and receive babies. In addition, mothers can anonymously inquire about the child’s condition anonymously and change their minds in six months before the child is released for adoption.

Useful links

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

MONEY

Reader question: Why haven’t I received my Klimabonus in Austria yet?

Austria started paying €500 to every resident in the country in early September. But some people entitled to it still haven't received the payment. Here's why and what you can do about it.

Reader question: Why haven't I received my Klimabonus in Austria yet?

With rising inflation, the Austrian government announced several measures to try and cushion the effects of higher cost of living for those who live in the country. One of the most talked about measures is the so-called Klimabonus (officially, the full name would be something like “the climate and anti-inflation bonus”), the €500 one-off payment that every resident in the country is entitled to.

The Klimabonus is supposed to be straightforward: no need to apply for it, no long queues, no different criteria or different amounts depending on income. However, there are two rules: the recipient must live in Austria for six months in 2022, and minors receive half the amount.

READ ALSO: Reader question: I’ve received my Austrian Klimabonus as a voucher, now what?

The “easy” payments would be sent directly to the recipient’s bank account registered with FinanzOnline – those who do not have their data up to date would instead get a secure letter with Klimabonus vouchers that can be exchanged for money or used in hundreds of stores and supermarkets.

It hasn’t been that simple, though, as payments started on September 1st and many people still haven’t received their money. Here are some reasons why you might not have received your €500 payment yet.

READ ALSO: Why is Austria’s €500 climate bonus causing controversy?

You are not entitled to it

The first reason, of course, is if you are not entitled to the payment.

According to the federal government, “Everyone who has their main residence in Austria for at least 183 days in the year of entitlement receives the climate bonus – regardless of age or origin and citizenship.”

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in October 2022

This means you must have your primary residence for around six months in 2022 to receive the climate bonus this year. So if you moved this year and haven’t been here for that long, then you are not entitled to it – yet.

If you moved but are unregistered with the authorities here (in other words, you haven’t got your Meldezettel), then you are also not entitled.

You recently moved to Austria

Those who moved to Austria this year might also only get their payment next year. This is because the government uses the data from July 3rd to assess who has been in Austria for 183 days.

READ ALSO: Reader question: I recently moved to Austria, will I receive the ‘climate bonus’?

This means that if you moved in 2022 and have not been in Austria for 183 days on July 3rd, you’ll likely end up in the second payout round to be made at the end of the year.

The same is valid for babies born this year in Austria. As these people won’t show up as living in Austria for 183 days as of July 3rd, they should get their payment (the total amount, referring to 2022) only in early 2023.

(© The Local)

You are one of the last people to get it

There is another reason why you might not have gotten your payment: you’re just last in line for this first payment. The transfers are made daily but capped to a – technical – limit and are made randomly.

According to the Linz IT company Programmierfabrik, which programmed the database behind the system, the payments are ongoing. Managing director Wilfried Seyruck said: “We have been making 300,000 transfers every day since September 5th.

“Therefore, it will take us 25 days until all 7.4 million claimants have received the transfer. We should be finished by the end of the first week of October.”

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What is the ‘Vollmacht Klimabonus 2022’ letter everyone in Austria is receiving?

So, if you are getting your payment through a wire transfer to your bank account, it might take a bit longer. However, it might take even longer if you don’t have your updated information with Austria’s FinanzOnline authorities.

As the government stated when they announced the bonus, those who don’t have their bank accounts up to date will receive a voucher instead. There are about 1.2 million people in Austria in that situation.

In these cases, it can take until the end of October to arrive by secure mail – and then people will have to trade the voucher for cash.

You got unlucky

We can’t rule out that there might have been an error in your case. You can check your bank information on FinanzOnline to see if the data is up to date and correct.

If you haven’t gotten your transfer or a voucher by the end of October – and there has been no announcement of delays by the government -you can reach the Klimabonus service team on the phone.

The service is available in German, from Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm on 0800 8000 80.

SHOW COMMENTS