Why don’t travel advisories include countries’ abortion restrictions?


American tourists Jay Weeldreyer and Andrea Prudente. Photo: Supplied

The US State Department’s travel advisory for Malta warns of potential terrorist activity in Europe despite the lack of a recent history of attacks on the Mediterranean island nation, that there is violence in the nightclubs and that the main hospital offers “full service”. But it makes no mention of the fact that Malta is the only EU country to ban and criminalize abortion in all circumstances.

“I could see that he was an EU member, that he had very high marks for health care,” said Jay Weeldreyer, who planned a babymoon vacation with pregnant partner Andrea Prudente there. months old. He hadn’t seen any information about how the country’s abortion laws might affect them if they encountered pregnancy issues; when it was discovered that the pregnancy was not viable halfway through their journey last week, the hospital refused to give them an aborted procedure and they had to get medical evacuation to Spain, further prolonging their trauma and grief.

The United States is not alone in excluding information about Malta’s abortion laws from its foreign travel advice, but its problem has been highlighted by the The United States Supreme Court reverses Roe v. wade, the case that legalized abortion across the country. VICE World News was unable to find a single country that provides information about local copyright laws on websites aimed at nationals wishing to travel abroad.

Leah Hoctor, Senior Regional Director for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said: “As the frightening circumstances endured by Andrea Prudente in Malta illustrate, laws that prohibit and criminalize abortion have a serious impact on the life and health of people.

“Many countries currently provide public information to their citizens through travel advisories regarding laws and policies that criminalize sexual behavior outside of marriage or same-sex relationships. Updating this guidance to include information on the criminalization of reproductive health care, where applicable, would be an important step in ensuring that people understand the implications of these laws.

VICE World News reached out to several countries to ask why they didn’t include information on abortion laws, and received responses from the US, Germany, Sweden and the UK. United. We have not received any replies from the foreign offices of Spain, France and the Netherlands.

The UK Foreign Office did not provide a reason for not including reproductive rights travel advisories, saying “each country-specific page contains general information on local health care” and that nationals British citizens can call the consulate for assistance if they need help.

A spokesperson for the German Federal Foreign Office said: “Our travel advice includes basic medical travel information. It does not include special advice on national abortion laws. We expressly point out that despite all possible efforts, the medical information on our web pages is always only an offer of advice. It cannot cover all medical aspects and eliminate all doubts.

“The travel advice for each country contains a call to ensure you have adequate travel health insurance which also covers medical repatriation. Travelers remain responsible for their own health.

Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs press office told VICE World News, “It is up to the traveler to investigate conditions at their destination which may affect them and to ensure they have adequate cover. appropriate insurance.”

A US State Department spokesperson said: “Our country-specific information provides a range of important information, including entry and exit requirements, security and safety conditions, crime, health and medical considerations, local laws, areas to avoid, etc. We are committed to providing U.S. citizens with up-to-date and timely information, so that they are as informed as possible when planning international travel and when abroad.

They added that their advice was not intended to be “comprehensive summaries of all local laws”. United States also has a page dedicated to women travelers which covers sexual assault, female genital mutilation and forced marriage, but nothing on reproductive health care.

Recently, the British doctor and content creator Maddy Lucy Dannwho spoke at length in support of abortion rights to his 876,000 TikTok followers, canceled a sponsored trip promoting tourism to Malta after seeing VICE World News’ coverage of the country’s abortion laws.

She told VICE World News on Instagram, “I always wonder if a lot of government advice is out of date. Because it’s such a sensitive issue for some people, it’s not yet considered health care, as an option. Perhaps we felt that we shouldn’t talk about it.

Referring to the situation of American tourists Prudente and Weeldreyer, Dann continued: “This is where it gets a bit dystopian because we can all agree that she needed an aborted procedure.

“I think it was reasonable that they saw it was the EU and they thought it would be safe, they looked at how highly the country’s health care was rated – but the advice didn’t didn’t include abortion in it. To me, that’s informed consent, giving them the reality – that it’s something you should be aware of. If countries don’t publish information about abortion, then someone has to do it.

Director of the UK coalition End Violence Against Women, Andrea Simon, said: “At this critical moment in history when we are witnessing a significant and worrying setback in this area of ​​women’s rights, we call on the UK and the international community to demonstrate their commitment to women’s ability to access this fundamental right to health care.

“The UK government must show it takes seriously its obligation to ensure women have access to this fundamental right, including when traveling overseas.”

The Center for Reproductive RightsThe website includes a map that details the countries that impose restrictions on abortion.

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