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]
Catania, Italy, Oct 26, 2016 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The tragic death of a mother in Italy after late-term pregnancy complications and miscarriage is being pinned on the doctor’s refusal to perform a late-term abortion, despite appearances that the mother died of complications of the miscarriage.
The case is complex, John F. Brehany, PhD, an ethicist for the National Catholic Bioethics Center, told CNA in a statement. “At a minimum, there seems to be a profound disagreement about what was said between the physician and the hospital, and the patient and her family. “Hopefully, this tragedy will not be exploited to promote abortion on demand or to undermine respect for the rights of conscience of physicians and other healthcare providers.”
The family of Valentina Milluzzo, who died at Cannizzaro hospital in the Sicilian city of Catania, allege that she passed away because her doctor was a “conscientious objector” to abortion and thus did not perform an abortion after she suffered pregnancy complications. The hospital denies that this is the case, and the head of the hospital, Angelo Pellicano, told Ansa news agency that the doctor did not have a conscientious objection to abortion, but that there was a spontaneous miscarriage that was forced by serious circumstances. . . [Full text]
(ANSA) – Catania, October 24 – Conscientious objection was not a factor in the case of a woman who died in hospital after miscarrying twins, health ministry inspectors reported to Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin on Monday.
Valentina Milluzzo, 34, died at Catania’s Cannizzaro Hospital after the miscarriage of her unborn twins at the 19th week of pregnancy on October 16. Her family filed a complaint arguing that a conscientious objector doctor refused to operate in time to save her life. . . [Full text]
ROME (Reuters) – Women’s rights are being violated in Italy by the serious difficulties they face in trying to obtain safe abortions due to many doctors refusing to carry out the procedure, the Council of Europe said on Monday.
Terminating pregnancies has been legal in Italy since 1978, but the council’s social rights committee found that the situation in Italy violated both the women’s right to protection of health and the doctors’ right to dignity at work.
In a significant number of Italian hospitals, even if a gynecology unit exists, there are no or very few doctors who do not object to performing abortions, the committee said. . . [Full text]
Figure has risen from 59% in 2005 and has been accompanied by increase in reported miscarriages
Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Pamela Duncan, Alberto Nardelli, Delphine Robineau
Seven in 10 Italian gynaecologists refuse to carry out abortions on the grounds of conscientious objection, according to official government figures.
The rise – which saw the proportion of those objecting go from 59% in 2005 to 70% in 2013 – has been accompanied by a steady increase in reported miscarriages, trends that some doctors say are linked. They suggest more women are seeking abortions in clinics that are not legally providing them or are inducing abortions themselves.
“Women are getting abortions, but doing it illegally, because we know there are so many who are arriving at our clinic who have a quote-unquote spontaneous abortion [or miscarriage]. They probably took a pill … we understand [these to be an] illegal abortion,” said Silvana Agatone, a gynaecologist in Rome. . .[Full text]
ROME – Italy’s Senate is considered a bill introduced in April that would mandate the government to offer “sexual assistants” to people with physical, mental or cognitive disabilities.
The bill, which would bring Italy in line with other EU countries, proposes that these “assistants” should be male and female professional “sex workers” who would help their clients gain “erotic, sensual or sexual experience and better address their internal energies” in order to help them “discharge dysfunctional feelings of anger and aggression.”
Disabled Italians will be eligible for government-funded “sex assistants” through the Ministry of Health. They must have reached the age of majority, have completed the “compulsory education” program, signed a code of conduct, and be certified as to their “psycho-sexual suitability” by the local health authority. . . [Full text]
Minerva asserts that conscientious objection “prevents access to certain treatments”, and proposes that we set up disincentives for objectors in hospitals. The proposed solutions include offering higher salaries for non-objectors and establishing ‘conscientious objector quotas’. She concludes:
When conscience-related issues prevent access to a certain treatment, such as abortion in Italy, the public health system, or the Ministry of Health in this case, has to find a solution that safeguards and protects the health of the patients as a priority.
In a response to Minerva, Oxford theologian and ethicist Roger Trigg argues that conscientious objection is a necessary part of the practice of medicine:
Once we discount conscientious moral reasoning, medicine is reduced to a technical issue about procedures, without any regard to their effect on the greater human good.
In the case of abortion, he suggests that high rates of conscientious objection might indicate a need to reconsider the original policy:
One problem with abortion is that for the most part those making the political decision are not those who have to implement the policy. If the latter object in sufficiently high numbers to make the policy hard to implement, that might be a reason for assuming there could be something wrong with what was being proposed.
This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge.org under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation to Bioedge. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.
The law regulating abortion in Italy gives healthcare practitioners the option to make a conscientious objection to activities that are specific and necessary to an abortive intervention. Conscientious objectors among Italian gynaecologists amount to about 70%. This means that only a few doctors are available to perform abortions, and therefore access to abortion is subject to constraints. In 2012 the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) lodged a complaint against Italy to the European Committee of Social Rights, claiming that the inadequate protection of the right to access abortion implies a violation of the right to health. In this paper I will discuss the Italian situation with respect to conscientious objection to abortion and I will suggest possible solutions to the problem.
ROME, Apr 5 2014 (IPS) – Two out of three doctors in Italy are ‘conscientious objectors’ to abortion, according to new data. The Italian Ministry of Health reveals that in 2011, 69.3 percent of doctors refused to carry out abortions, with peaks of over 85 percent in some regions.
In the face of such numbers, the ruling of the European Committee of Social Rights of the Council of Europe against Italy earlier this month over a complaint for violating the right to protection of health came as no surprise.
“The Italian situation really worries us, and this is why we filed the complaint,” Irene Donadio, advocacy officer at the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF_EN) told IPS. “We believe that there is a problem with the functioning and application of the abortion law, which, in fact, would be a good law but is often violated.
“We acknowledge the fact that the right to conscientious objection is included in the same law, but the right of women to access a service that is legal and fundamental for their health needs to be respected as much as this right.” [Full Text]
“When the ideological fury collides with reality, sometimes the impact is very violent.”
ROME, March 13, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The pro-life movement in Italy has come out swinging against an order by the Council of Europe to abolish the country’s legal protection for conscientious objectors against abortion. Gianfranco Amato, the head of the campaign group Giuristi per la Vita (Jurists for Life), said at a press conference yesterday that the clause in the abortion law 194, “remains the only form of defence against an unjust law.”
Amato said, “Freedom of thought, conscience and religion is one of the foundations of a democratic society.”
The committee’s decision came in response to a complaint, launched in November 2012 by International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPFEN) and an Italian labour union, claiming that Italian doctors were “abusing” the conscience protection clause in Law 194. IPPF made the complaint when the government announced in its annual statistics that between 70 and 90 percent of gynecologists in the country refuse to participate in abortion.
Some in the secular media are defending the decision of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Social Rights to uphold a complaint against the law, saying that it has created a “totalitarianism” of pro-life doctors who commit “psychological violence” against women who want abortions. The criticism comes as Italian media are publicizing the case of a woman who is claiming that two years ago she miscarried in a hospital bathroom after doctors refused to do an abortion. Valentina Pertini has launched a court case to review the law this week, aiming to add political pressure immediately following the Council of Europe committee’s non-binding decision.[Full Text]