Hungary’s National Consumer Protection Bureau has banned the Abortourism Travel Agency. We are delighted to say that beautiful lines of poetry such as “Kolozsvar is a beautiful city, Abortion at the Szamos” are not only being appreciated by them, but even quoted word to word.
We often had painful doubts- maybe our art is just pearls before swine, our sensitively formed messages about contemporary social issues are getting lost in the vacuum of indifference, but luckily our audience at the National Consumer Protection Bureau have a thing for beauty and artistry.
According to the National Consumer Protection Bureau:
“ The content of the website clashes with § 17 of law XLVIII of 2008 describing the conditions of economic advertising, because the offending website contains a number of offers which are beyond the scope of the provision of information in the Authority ‘s view, and they have the potential to promote medical or surgical pregnancy termination”
A few statistics might help to shed light on the situation in contemporary Hungary.
– One of the greatest risk of poverty among women is having children.
– Between 2007 and 2012, 7 to 17% of children lived in relative poverty: 34 out of 100 living under the poverty line is a child or young person.
– In Hungary 36-54 thousand children go hungry every day, and about two hundred thousand minors do not receive adequate nutrition from time to time- they are the crisis malnourished.
– One in five women grew up in a family where the father beat the mother.
– In the vast majority of cases, the perpetrators of violence against women are the partners or ex-partners.
– 22% of violent crimes against women are committed by their partner or ex-partner. The comparative figure for men was 3%.
– According to police data, more than half of women murdered were done so by their (former) spouse or partner. In 2009, it was 51.2% of such murders (43 women) were committed by the male partner. Another police source claims the number is 76% (64 women).
– 27 percent of the abused women reported that their partner was never under the influence of alcohol or drugs during violent episodes.
– The women who experienced intimate partner violence were five times as likely to undergo abortions or abortion compared to other women
– Women who experienced abusive relationships are five times more likely to report depression than the non-abused peers. If the relationship is still ongoing, the chance of depression is 13-times more likely.
Despite all this, the Istanbul Convention (The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence) still has not been ratified, in conjunction with a reference to the rights of “unborn children”.
If they supposedly cared about more children being born, they would support women’s economic independence, either full employment or part-time jobs, as such measures have been taken in many other European countries and led to demographic growth.
In Hungary, surgical abortion is hard to access, but legal, unlike medical abortion- without a sufficient reasoning ever provided by the legislators.
There is a lot of confusion regarding the nature of medical pregnancy termination.
Pregnancy is traditionally counted from the point the pregnant woman felt the baby move- the quickening of the womb. In fact, medical abortion has always existed, but was not named so. People took herbal remedies for “menstrual regulation”, or to deal with a “delayed bleeding”.
Out of all fertilized egg cells, about 50-70% is expelled or absorbed without a trace. Many women were pregnant without ever knowing about it.
Typically, the lawmakers’ interest in the “unborn child ” lasts as long as it is born, and then when the child throws a tantrum sitting on the shopping cart everyone turns away.
We all know very well that all of this is not about a couple of millimeter small zygotes or embryos (often flushed out unnoticed with menstrual blood) but about the entitlement to women’s bodies and labour power, about the control of public discourse, the reproduction of power relations.
Regarding the decision of the Consumer Protection Bureau, the image of an impartial procedure is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that weeks before any decision was communicated to us, an anti-choice Facebook group has declared on 15 December that:
“After our partner organisation, the ALFA Association reported them, the investigation of the National Consumer Protection Bureau came to the conclusion that the abortion-promoting website of FKSE (Studio of Young Artists’ Association) operated illegally. “
Our legal representatives, PATENT Association claimed in their appeal that the proceedings which lasted for about five months and examined the legality of Abortourism Travel Agency’s activities -namely whether the “Travel Agency” was registered by the Hungarian Trade Licensing Office, and upon receipt of any fee paid for the travel services, who received the sum, and who issued a receipt- were not impartial. PATENT argues that the travel offers displayed on the website are not suitable either for a service to sell, nor to promote access for any such service, given the fact that no specific providers (clinics, hospitals, healthcare institutions, etc) are mentioned individually. Therefore no company turns profit or gains visibility from the contents of this website, so we can not talk of economic advertising. The promotion of abortion does not take place either, because the declared aim of the website is the widest possible dissemination of information related to sexual and reproductive rights, with the declared aim of preventing abortions. The website operators have neither personal, nor professional interest in promoting abortion, as it is clearly and numerously stated on the website. Not only because it is prohibited by the Hungarian legislation, but also because from a human rights aspect the relevant interest of women is to avoid abortion through sex education, contraception, and accessible and high-quality family planning services.
We would like to express our gratitude for (even more) media attention and the possibility of claiming our place in the future of art history textbooks as non-authors of a banned tactical media project, and the opportunity to show how exciting the toolkit of contemporary art can be. To freely paraphrase Lana Del Rey: The Abortourism Travel Agency was born to die. Thank you for the congratulations.
The video of the girl singing “Get the Hell out of our Cunts” on the evening news is here.