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]
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]
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]
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.