Reader question: Is abortion legal in Austria?

With the debates on women's rights again in the spotlight worldwide, readers in Austria have asked what the rules are in the alpine country.

People enjoying the sun at the Danube canal in Vienna, Austria on Thursday May 5
People sit in the sun at the Danube canal in Vienna, Austria on May 5, 2022. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The leaked US Supreme court draft document that shows the highest court in the United States is now in favour of overturning the ruling, known as Roe v Wade, which made abortion legal across the country, has brought the issue of reproductive rights back to the centre stage worldwide.

Austria has been put particularly in the spotlight, as Reuters reported that a company headquartered in the country has seen a spike in interest from American women this week.

The company, nonprofit Aid Access provides prescription pills used to terminate pregnancies at home and sends them by mail.

To get around restrictions in some US states, the Austrian-headquartered company works with European doctors who prescribe the abortive pills for patients using a mail-order pharmacy in India.

READ ALSO: Violence against women in the spotlight in Austria after horrific killings

While women in many countries need to go through such schemes or even resort to illegal and dangerous abortion clinics, rules in Austria, where abortion has been legal since 1975, make the procedure much safer for women.

Is abortion legal in Austria?

It is decriminalised. Since 1975, optative abortion is not a crime in Austria. Women can discontinue a pregnancy per choice within the first three months – before the 16th pregnancy week, counting from the date of the last menstrual period.

Women must go through a consultation with a doctor, but they don’t have to disclose the reasons for the abortion. Instead, the consultation will usually decide which abortion method is better for the patient’s case.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which European nations have the highest (and lowest) percentage of women MPs?

The so-called “late abortions”, after 16 weeks, are possible in some instances.

These include if there is a severe danger to the mental health, physical health, or the life of the pregnant woman; if the child is expected to be born with severe mental or physical disabilities; or if the woman was under 14 years of age when she became pregnant.

Teenage pregnancy

Girls in Austria can give their own consent to an abortion from the age of 14. However, some hospitals in Austrian provinces would still require a legal guardian’s consent for minors.

The consent of a legal guardian is also necessary if the adolescent is not legally capable of giving consent (for example, as a result of a learning disability), according to Austrian authorities.

If the girl is under the age of 14, then the consent of a parent or legal guardian is always required before an abortion can be performed.

What are the methods available in Austria?

Women who have decided to have an abortion can do so with a surgical method (usually suction, but curettage is also possible in some cases) or using drugs. This will usually depend on how far along with the pregnancy she is and is decided together with a doctor.

READ ALSO: Does Austria have a problem with violence against women?

The surgical option can be done either in a hospital or an outpatient clinic, with general or local anaesthesia. It is a safe surgical procedure, and women are usually discharged after a few hours.

With a drug-based abortion, doctors use the Mifegyne pill, which has been approved in Austria since 1999 and is considered a very safe and reliable method, especially in early pregnancy. However, the drug must be taken in the presence of a doctor or after written medical order.

Where can women go to get information on abortion?

For information or to get the procedure, women can go to general practitioners, gynaecology clinics, special abortion ambulatory clinics, and gynaecological departments of hospitals.

There are also advice institutions such as family counselling centres and women’s health centres that women can visit to get more information.

Austria has many private women’s clinics that offer advice, do the procedure in a safe environment, or just provide implantation and recommendation for contraception methods.

Most of them will see people seeking abortions without a previous appointment, on short notice, and even on weekends. Most clinics have doctors and receptionists who speak English. They don’t require women to give much personal details or be Austrian citizens or residents.

Who pays for the costs of an abortion?

Optional abortions are not covered by social insurance in Austria and must be paid privately. Costs can range from €550 to €915 for a surgical abortion in Vienna or €535 to €560 for the pharmacological option in the capital.

The costs of abortion will only be covered by social insurance if the abortion is necessary for medical reasons.

READ ALSO: Austria’s top court legalises same-sex marriage

Some municipalities offer financial support through the social welfare office of district authorities, subject to certain conditions.

Is the morning after pill allowed?

Yes. Emergency contraception is not free, though, but can be bought without a prescription in pharmacies or in women’s clinics, which usually open late.

What is “anonymous birth”?

In Austria, there is also the legal possibility of giving birth anonymously, free of charge, in any hospital. The Youth Welfare Office becomes the child’s legal guardian as it is adopted by parents in the system.

This is legal in Austria, and women can follow the route without concern for criminal prosecution – they also don’t need Austrian health insurance or residency. After the birth, women have six months to change their minds and revoke the decision to give up the child.

There are also hospitals in Austria that anonymously care for and receive babies. In addition, mothers can anonymously inquire about the child’s condition anonymously and change their minds in six months before the child is released for adoption.

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How do the EU’s new EES passport checks affect the 90-day rule?

As European travellers prepare for the introduction of enhanced passport checks known as the Entry & Exit System (EES), many readers have asked us what this means for the '90-day rule' for non-EU citizens.

How do the EU's new EES passport checks affect the 90-day rule?

From the start date to the situation for dual nationals and non-EU residents living in the EU, it’s fair to say that readers of The Local have a lot of questions about the EU’s new biometric passport check system known as EES.

You can find our full Q&A on how the new system will work HERE, or leave us your questions HERE.

And one of the most commonly-asked questions was what the new system changes with regards to the 90-day rule – the rule that allows citizens of certain non-EU countries (including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) to spend up to 90 days in every 180 in the EU without needing a visa.

And the short answer is – nothing. The key thing to remember about EES is that it doesn’t actually change any rules on immigration, visas etc.

Therefore the 90-day rule continues as it is – but what EES does change is the enforcement of the rule.

90 days 

The 90-day rule applies to citizens of a select group of non-EU countries;

Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Macau, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Macedonia, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela.

Citizens of these countries can spend up to 90 days in every 180 within the EU or Schengen zone without needing a visa or residency permit.

People who are citizens of neither the EU/Schengen zone nor the above listed countries need a visa even for short trips into the EU – eg an Indian or Chinese tourist coming for a two-week holiday would require a visa. 

In total, beneficiaries of the 90-day rule can spend up to six months in the EU, but not all in one go. They must limit their visits so that in any 180-day (six month) period they have spent less than 90 days (three months) in the Bloc.

READ ALSO How does the 90-day rule work?

The 90 days are calculated according to a rolling calendar so that at any point in the year you must be able to count backwards to the last 180 days, and show that you have spent less than 90 of them in the EU/Schengen zone.

You can find full details on how to count your days HERE.

If you wish to spend more than 90 days at a time you will have to leave the EU and apply for a visa for a longer stay. Applications must be done from your home country, or via the consulate of your home country if you are living abroad.

Under EES 90-day rule beneficiaries will still be able to travel visa free (although ETIAS will introduce extra changes, more on that below).

EES does not change either the rule or how the days are calculated, but what it does change is the enforcement.


One of the stated aims of the new system is to tighten up enforcement of ‘over-stayers’ – that is people who have either overstayed the time allowed on their visa or over-stayed their visa-free 90 day period.

At present border officials keep track of your time within the Bloc via manually stamping passports with the date of each entry and exit to the Bloc. These stamps can then be examined and the days counted up to ensure that you have not over-stayed.

The system works up to a point – stamps are frequently not checked, sometimes border guards incorrectly stamp a passport or forget to stamp it as you leave the EU, and the stamps themselves are not always easy to read.

What EES does is computerise this, so that each time your passport is scanned as you enter or leave the EU/Schengen zone, the number of days you have spent in the Bloc is automatically tallied – and over-stayers will be flagged.

For people who stick to the limits the system should – if it works correctly – actually be better, as it will replace the sometimes haphazard manual stamping system.

But it will make it virtually impossible to over-stay your 90-day limit without being detected.

The penalties for overstaying remain as they are now – a fine, a warning or a ban on re-entering the EU for a specified period. The penalties are at the discretion of each EU member state and will vary depending on your personal circumstances (eg how long you over-stayed for and whether you were working or claiming benefits during that time).


It’s worth mentioning ETIAS at this point, even though it is a completely separate system to EES, because it will have a bigger impact on travel for many people.

ETIAS is a different EU rule change, due to be introduced some time after EES has gone live (probably in 2025, but the timetable for ETIAS is still somewhat unclear).

It will have a big impact on beneficiaries of the 90-day rule, effectively ending the days of paperwork-free travel for them.

Under ETIAS, beneficiaries of the 90-rule will need to apply online for a visa waiver before they travel. Technically this is a visa waiver rather than a visa, but it still spells the end of an era when 90-day beneficiaries can travel without doing any kind of immigration paperwork.

If you have travelled to the US in recent years you will find the ETIAS system very similar to the ESTA visa waiver – you apply online in advance, fill in a form and answer some questions and are sent your visa waiver within a couple of days.

ETIAS will cost €7 (with an exemption for under 18s and over 70s) and will last for three years.

Find full details HERE