In early August, an international group of abortion advocates met in Uruguay to discuss the potential removal of conscience protections for healthcare providers with regard to abortion.
Religious freedom is an obstacle to women’s health, according to conference organizer International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC). The group encourages advocates to ensure “that professional bodies recognize that personal beliefs can seriously undermine the provision of women-centered, professional health services.” . . . [Full Text]
Thomas D. Williams
The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations has censured Italy for failing to provide ready access to abortion throughout the country due to a “high number of physicians” who refuse to carry out the procedure for reasons of conscience.
In its recently released report on Italy (2017), the UN Committee specifically names conscience objection as an obstacle to insuring the availability of abortions throughout the predominantly Catholic nation.
In a section devoted to “voluntary termination of pregnancy,” the Committee notes its concerns over “reported difficulties in accessing legal abortions owing to the high number of physicians who refuse to perform abortions for reasons of conscience and their manner of distribution across the country.” . . .[Full text]
The Daily Beast
Barbie Latza Nadeau
ROME — If a woman wants to end her pregnancy in Italy, she has the legal right to do so under the public health system within the first 90 days, or first trimester, of the gestation. The law, known in Italy as Law 194, has been on the books for nearly 40 years, but it has one major flaw, say pro-choice advocates: It allows for doctors, nurses, anesthetists, and other assistants to an abortion procedure to be conscientious objectors. Boiled down, that means that many administrators of hospitals and clinics who do not support the pro-choice law simply hire abortion doctors who object to performing abortions.
The practice of hiring conscientious objectors is all-too-common across Italy. The national estimate of conscientious objectors hired as public health gynecologists mandated to perform abortions is around 70 percent, meaning seven out of 10 doctors can, but won’t, do the procedure. . . [Full text]
An Italian woman has revealed she was turned away from 23 hospitals in north-west Italy when she was seeking abortion services, highlighting the disconnect between the country’s abortion laws and its Catholic influence.
The anonymous 41-year-old mother of two came forward to share her story in Il Gazzettino after she became pregnant when her contraceptive failed. She was refused an abortion by her gynecologist and her local hospital, and then began contacting other hospitals which also refused to carry out the procedure.
The hospitals said they didn’t have an opening within the 12-week timeframe, or that they didn’t have doctors who were willing to do the procedure. . . [Full text]
ROME – Although Italy claims to have one of the most sophisticated abortion laws in the world, what it apparently doesn’t have are doctors willing to perform them.
Law 194, signed in 1978 and approved by popular referendum in 1981 over the Church’s stern opposition, allows for the woman wishing to have an abortion to do so within the first 90 days of pregnancy. It also created public counseling facilities for the purpose of providing women with alternatives to abortion.
One of the main aspects of law 194 is that it permits doctors to be conscientious objectors and therefore refuse to terminate a pregnancy. What makes Italy unique is that an overwhelming majority of doctors fall under this category. On average, seven out of ten doctors are conscientious objectors. . . [Full text]
The Christian Times
A public hospital’s decision to hire two doctors who are willing to perform abortions have caused an outcry from Catholics in Italy, where most doctors refuse to carry out the procedure.
Under Italy’s “Law 194,” which was introduced in 1978, abortion is allowed up to 12 weeks into pregnancy for medical and personal reasons, AFP reported. However, doctors in the public service may refuse to perform the procedure on grounds of “conscientious objection.”
The issue sparked controversy after the San Camillo hospital in Rome advertised positions for two gynecologists, stipulating that those appointed should be willing to carry out abortions. Those who fail to conduct the procedure within the first six months of their appointment would put themselves at risk of being fired.
San Camillo hospital ad rekindles church versus state debate on reproductive rights
The Irish Times
An Italian hospital’s insistence that applicants for two gynaecology vacancies be prepared to carry out abortions, or face dismissal, has rekindled a church versus state debate on women’s reproductive rights.
Under Italy’s 1978 abortion legislation, any doctor in the public service may decline to carry out a pregnancy termination on grounds of “conscientious objection”. The percentage of conscientious objectors in Italy is about 70 per cent nationwide, and as high as almost 90 per cent in southern regions such as Sicily and Molise. . .[Full text]
Call put out after colleagues at assisted conception unit object
(ANSA) – Rovigo, February 24 – Medical authorities in the Veneto city of Rovigo were obliged to issue out a selection competition for two biologists who are not conscientious objectors to work in a hospital assisted conception unit, it emerged on Friday. The call was made after two colleagues already working in the unit at Trecenta hospital refused to offer their services on grounds of conscience . . . [Full text]
Rome hospital aims to combat rampant conscientious objection
(ANSA) – Brussels, February 22 – Rome’s San Camillo Hospital’s call for two abortion doctors to skirt widespread conscientious objection against terminating pregnancies is “not envisaged” by the law, Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin said Wednesday, stressing that conscientious objection is respected in Italy.
However, she said that but hospitals can ask regional governments to complete “specific individual services”.
Earlier the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) slammed the planned hiring of two gynecologists at the San Camillo on a contract that reportedly envisages their dismissal if they refuse to perform abortions because it is against their consciences. . . [Full text]
In Italy, conscientious objectors make it difficult to have an abortion
On the books, abortion in Italy is legal. In practice, it is out of reach for many women.
An unprecedented wave of so-called conscientious objectors — doctors declining to perform abortions for personal or religious reasons — is sweeping the country. Today, 70 percent of Italian gynecologists and 48.4 percent of anesthesiologists decline to perform terminations, according to a report from the Italian health ministry presented in December.
In more conservative regions such as Sicily and Campania, as much as 84 percent of doctors object to abortion. That leaves a tiny group of abortion providers to deal with a huge demand for terminations. . . [Full text]