A decline in birth rates and an aging population have emerged as further side effects of Greece’s ongoing economic crisis. For the past six years, Greece has also suffered a significant increase in abortions. According to the daily newspaper “Efimerida ton Syntakton,” 4 out of 10 women in Greece will give birth to one less child than they were planning. Some will never have children.
According to Aikaterini Stypsanelli, a doctor at Alexandra Hospital, the crisis has reduced births by 30%.
“There are women that, even though they desire to have children, are forced to undergo an abortion because they simply can not afford to have a baby. Raising children looks like a mountain in their eyes,” he said. Even the cost of an abortion is unbearable for many of them; as a result, women turn to risky medicine in order to disrupt the pregnancy.
As a result of their limitations to create their own families, many Greek women experience depression and a growing sense of guilt. Katerina, 35, was working in the public sector but now, she says, she faces the daily risk of unemployment. “Since I was a little kid I wanted to have many children. Even without a husband I believe I could make it, if only the situation was different. Now I cannot even cover my own basic needs. Every month I leave a bill unpaid and I have completely limited my entertainment. I only spend money on necessities,” she says, adding that she lives a lonely life. “There are nights when I remember what my life used to be like before the crisis in order to fall asleep. When I am tired of crying, I am dreaming of the day that all this will be gone. Yet, in 5 years I will be 40. Am I going to make it?” she wonders.
Giannis Mouzalas, a gynecologist working for Doctors of the World (Médecins du Monde), explains the new reality in Greece: “Currently we have 3 million uninsured people and 10 million insecure, meaning that none of them knows if next month he will find them unemployed or at least unpaid.”