Interpress Service News Agency
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]
ROME, March 10, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The International Planned Parenthood Federation has scored a major victory against conscientious objection laws in Italy at the Council of Europe. The council’s European Committee of Social Rights voted this weekend to uphold IPPF’s complaint against Italy that too many doctors are allowed to refuse to participate in abortion.
The complaint was launched in November 2012 by International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPFEN) claiming that Italian doctors were “abusing” the right, granted in Italy’s abortion law, not to be forced to commit abortions. It alleged that the Italian law is in “violation of the right to health … due to inadequate protection of the right to access procedures for the termination of pregnancy.”
The law, they said, “does not indicate the precise means through which hospitals and regional authorities are to guarantee the adequate presence of non-objecting medical personnel in all public hospitals, so as to always ensure the right of access to procedures for the termination of pregnancy.”
“Due to this lack in the normative framework, there exists an inadequate application of Law no. 194 of 1978, as demonstrated by the facts relating to practice, which in turn compromises the rights to life, health and self-determination of women seeking to terminate a pregnancy.” [Full Text]
Cuando la conciencia molesta a la ley
A finales de 2010, en la Asamblea Parlamentaria del Consejo de Europa (PACE) se presentó un informe de su Comisión de Asuntos Sociales, Salud y Familia en el que expresaba su profunda preocupación por el problema de la “objeción de conciencia no regulada” en Europa. El Comité propuso que los Estados adoptaran “una regulación integral y clara” para hacer frente a este problema. . .[aceprensa]
In late 2010, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) was presented with a report from its Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee expressing deep concern about the problem of “unregulated conscientious objection” in Europe. The Committee proposed to solve this problem by having states adopt “comprehensive and clear regulations” to address it.
The Council ultimately adopted a resolution that almost completely contradicted the premises of the report, but in 2011 the theme was resurrected by Dr. Leslie Cannold, an Australian ethicist. Dr. Cannold warned that, “[a]t best, unregulated conscientious objection is an accident waiting to happen,” and, at worst, “a sword wielded by the pious against the vulnerable with catastrophic results.” It was, she wrote, “a pressing problem from which we can no longer, in good conscience, look away.” . . .[Full text]
Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, has issued a statement supporting the exercise of conscientious objection to military service. He argues that objectors should be given a “genuinely civilian” alternative to compulsory military service, not imprisoned. [CE press release]
In a document addressing the issue of advance directives, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe included the statement, “Euthanasia, in the sense of the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit, must always be prohibited.” While the document is not legally binding on member states of the European Union, it has persuasive weight. It thus seems less likely that health care workers who object to euthanasia will be pressured to participate in the procedure. However, the document makes no reference to assisted suicide. [Resolution 1859 (2012)]
Member of the European Parliament Roger Helmer has written in favour of assisted suicide on grounds beyond those recommended by a recent report by a private commission, advocating the availability of the procedure for those not terminally ill. He explicitly argues that the cost of supporting people with advanced dementia is one reason to accept the practice. [TFA]