More than two-thirds of obstetricians exercise ‘right to object’ to terminations
Hannah Roberts, Marianna Giusti
Seven Italian doctors who refused to perform a potentially life-saving abortion are fighting accusations of manslaughter in a trial that is expected to set a precedent for Italy’s medical attitude towards the procedure.
The trial held in Catania, Sicily, focuses on the circumstances of the death, in 2016, of five-months-pregnant Valentina Milluzzo. Members of Milluzzo’s family, who gave evidence on Tuesday, said that when the 32-year-old was admitted to hospital with complications, doctors said her unborn twins would not survive but refused to terminate the pregnancies on moral grounds, which ultimately led to fatal sepsis. . . [Full text]
Italy’s constitutional court has ruled it was not always a crime to help someone in “intolerable suffering” kill themselves, opening the way for a change of law in the Catholic country.
Parliament is now expected to debate the matter, which was highlighted by the Milan trial of an activist who helped a tetraplegic man die in Switzerland.
Anyone who “facilitates the suicidal intention … of a patient kept alive by life-support treatments and suffering from an irreversible pathology” should not be punished under certain conditions, the top court ruled. . . [Full text]
Italy legalized abortion 40 years ago. But according to a group of Italian gynecologists, access to the procedure has been declining for years now.
The main reason is that fewer doctors who work in Italy’s public health facilities are willing to perform abortions. Italy’s abortion law requires all hospitals to provide access to the procedure. But the law also gives gynecologists the option to declare themselves “conscientious objectors.”
“For example, in the public University of Rome, we have more than 60 doctors but only two provide abortion, only two,” said Silvana Agatone, a gynecologist in Rome. . . [Full text]
This article explores obstetricians-gynaecologists’ experiences and attitudes towards abortion, based on two mixed-methods studies respectively undertaken in Italy in 2011–2012, and in Spain (Cataluña) in 2013–2015. Short questionnaires and in-depth interviews were conducted with 54 obstetricians-gynaecologists at 4 hospitals providing abortion care in Rome and Milan, and with 23 obstetricians-gynaecologists at 2 hospitals and one clinic providing abortion care in Barcelona. A medical/moral classification of abortions, from those considered ‘more acceptable’, both medically and morally – for severe foetal malformations – to the ‘least acceptable’ ones – repeated ‘voluntary abortions’, emerged in the discourse of most obstetricians-gynaecologists working in public hospitals, regardless of their religiosity. I argue that this is the result of the increasing medicalisation of contraception as well as of reproduction, which has reinforced the stigmatisation of ‘voluntary abortion’ (in case of unintended pregnancy) in a context of declining fertility rates. This contributes to explain why obstetricians-gynaecologists working in Catalan hospitals, which provide terminations only for medical reasons, unlike Italian hospitals, do not experience abortion stigma and do not object to abortion care as much as their Italian colleagues do.
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]