Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ceausescu’s grisly legacy: Romanian women endured 22m abortions after dictator’s ban on contraception

By Daily Mail Reporter
22nd February 2011

Shocking health statistics have revealed how Romanian women went through more than 22 million abortions as a result of policies introduced by Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

Official government records have revealed that between 1958 and 2008 state clinics carried out 22.1 million terminations in a country with a population of just 21.5 million.

But, warn Health Ministry aides, the true figure could be even higher as tens of thousands of pregnant women carried our DIY abortions or attended illegal clinics.

Experts say the figures came from dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's drive to push up the country's population by banning all forms of contraception.

One victim of the regime Raluca Ionescu - who has had 32 abortions - said: "I never thought about them as children, you know, just as a growth or something that needs to be taken care of.

"I first became pregnant when I was 13. My mother took me first to the clinic, then after that I went on my own."

Ceausescu and his wife Elena were both unceremoniously executed in 1989 shortly after being swept from power.

It was in the Romanian city of Timisoara that the revolution that toppled Eastern Europe’s most oppressive dictator started.

Residents flocked to the defence of an ethnic Hungarian dissident pastor who was being threatened with forced relocation.

The next day, police, army and secret service units began firing at protesters, the start of six days of fighting that subsequently spilled over to Bucharest and led to the toppling of Ceausescu.

More than 1,000 people were killed in the sole violent upheaval of the revolutions that swept communists from power across Eastern Europe 20 years ago.

Of those, 118 were killed in Timisoara, the city near Romania's western border with Hungary and Serbia.
The city’s mayor, Gheorghe Ciuhandru, said the revolutionaries who prompted Ceausescu's downfall should be proud the uprising started there.

However, he said that 20 years after Ceausescu was toppled and executed, Romania was still marred by 'lies, manipulation, hatred ... and widespread poverty,' referring to a deep recession and a bitterly disputed presidential election.

The Timisoara revolt started on December 16, 1989, when authorities tried to forcibly move ethnic Hungarian pastor Laszlo Toekes to a remote rural parish.

Supporters gathered outside his house and soon the site was teeming with protesters.

Ceausescu and his wife Elena were executed after a summary trial on Christmas Day.

His brutal reign was underpinned by the notorious Securitate who had an army of an estimated 700,000 informers - about 1 in 20 Romanians - to stifle dissent during 25 years of harsh rule.

Toward the end of the Ceausescu era, ordinary Romanians suffered through harsh rationing and severe powercuts, as the dictator tried to pay off the country's foreign debt.

Today, Romania is still drowning in debt - with foreign obligations of almost £70 billion.

Although it joined the European Union in 2007, the nation remains deeply troubled, plagued by corruption, mired in deep recession, and paralysed by political infighting.

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