Ratas to EKRE: Blaming gynaecologists, women must stop

Prime Minister and Centre Party chairman Jüri Ratas.
Prime Minister and Centre Party chairman Jüri Ratas. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Prime Minister and Centre Party chairman Jüri Ratas has condemned statements by members of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) regarding abortion and has demanded that they stop blaming gynaecologists and women regarding the matter.

Late Thursday night, Mr Ratas wrote on social media that the role and duty of all state leaders is to move life in Estonia forward as well as build up a cohesive, strong and united society.

"A society where there is more understanding and listening to one another, and less hatred," he wrote. "A state where nobody feels as though they are treated unfairly for no reason. Our society is always significantly easier to break up than it is to patch up again later." Which is why, he added, every politician has to understand the weight their words and actions hold.

"Unfortunately, the debate over such a personal and sensitive topic as abortion has groundlessly hurt a great many people," the prime minister continued. "I apologise to all women, gynaecologists but also men whom this unexpectedly arisen debate has hurt."

Mr Ratas wrote that he is asking EKRE politicians to seriously reflect and understand that the possibility of bearing the responsibility of government does not mean simply standing for their own stances and convictions, but also serving and caring for the entire state and its people.

"Blaming gynaecologists and women for incredibly difficult but deeply personal decisions is unacceptable," he wrote. "This has to end."

Martin, Mart Helme make controversial comments

During an appearance on ETV's Esimene stuudio on Tuesday night, EKRE deputy chairman Martin Helme accused gynaecologists who have performed abortions of violating their Hippocratic Oath, also stating that every year, 4,500 or more children are "killed" before they are born in Estonia.

Speaking to the press following coalition talks on Wednesday, EKRE chairman Mart Helme, Martin Helme's father, said that doctors haven't understood the matter.

"I am of the opinion that killing a fetus is killing," the elder Helme said. "I believe that all those doctors who are accusing Martin Helme over contrived reasons have not understood the matter."

These comments sparked public criticism and calls for apologies from the Estonian Medical Association (EAL) and President Kersti Kaljulaid alike.

EKRE's election programme states that its goal is to "reduce the number of non-medically indicated abortions with the help of various means, including by halting their funding from taxpayers' healthcare funding."

The party's proposal to withdraw abortion funding was not supported at coalition talks with Centre and Isamaa this week.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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