Alarmed over the falling birth rate, Romanian Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu in 1966 imposed strict rules on abortion. Illegal abortions were punished with prison terms of one to five years. Abortion was only permitted if a woman had already borne five children.
The birth rate rapidly increased, but then gradually declined, due partly to an underground illegal abortion network.
The Government announced a new campaign in March 1984 employing systematic controls and severe measures. Women of reproductive age were required to undergo regular gynaecological examinations at their place of employment. Pregnant women were monitored until delivery. Doctors were required to report all women who became pregnant and gynaecological wards were under continuous surveillance.
A special tax was levied on unmarried persons over 25 years of age, as well as on childless couples who did not have a medical reason for being childless. Investigations determined the cause of all miscarriages.
In 1985, further restrictions were imposed with the age for a legal abortion raised to 45 or older. To qualify for an abortion, a woman must have given birth to five children who were currently under her care.
After the revolution in December, 1989, the new transitional Government quickly repealed the restrictions on abortion. New abortion legislation came into force in November 1996, allowing abortion on request during the first 14 weeks. An abortion may be performed later if absolutely necessary for therapeutic reasons.
Since then, the abortion rate in Romania remains the highest by far in Europe.