Almost 80% of Italian gynecologists refuse to perform abortions

Almost 80% of Italian gynecologists refuse to perform abortions

The purpose of this demonstration, which took place in May? Reaffirming the Catholic Church’s firm opposition to abortion, which has been legal in Italy since 1978 even if many gynecologists refuse to perform it in practice.

Health workers can already invoke conscientious objection, which has resulted in dozens of hospitals and clinics not providing the possibility of an abortion.

There is no official list of establishments that practice them, and geographical disparities are large.

So a person goes to the hospital without knowing whether the doctor in front of him will do or not.Explains to AFP Eleonora Mizzoni, 32, a pro-abortion activist in Pisa (Tuscany, center).

While the right to abortion is faltering in the United States half a century after its legalization, Italy is evidence that even when abortion is legal, exercising that right can be very difficult.

67% of gynecologists on the peninsula are conscientious objectors, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Health dating back to 2019. This percentage rises to 80% in five out of twenty Italian regions.

Martina Patton, a 35-year-old Italian, told AFP how she called dozens of hospitals eight years ago to organize her abortion before an association came forward to help her.

She also remembers having to explain to the nurse how the abortion pills work and to wait at 6 a.m. to get on the waiting list.

I really thought going to the hospital would be easy, but not at all“She’s sorry, she judges.”silly“Women still have problems exercising their right to abortion.

The most extreme example is the small Molise region (south), where one gynecologist has performed all abortions for 40 years, twice postponing his retirement for lack of an alternative.

We who accompany every day (women who want to have an abortion) know how difficult abortion is in Italy‘ asserts Eleonora Mizzoni.

I object, bye

Five years ago, his associationObiezione Respinta“(“Objection refused‘) has created an online interactive map where women can alert others to places where they risk having their requests rejected.

On this site, a woman recounts how, after waiting for hours in an institution in Caserta, near Naples, the gynecologist sent her with this eloquent explanation: “I object, bye“.

Another woman from Pistoia in Tuscany remembers a gynecologist who prescribed her fertility medication when she asked for the morning after pill.

An Italian woman from Foligno in Umbria (centre) was refused a follow-up after a miscarriage when she was in pain and a fever. However, the law states that opponents may not refuse care before or after the abortion.

Valentina Meluzzo, a 32-year-old Sicilian, died of sepsis in 2016 during her fifth month of pregnancy after doctors refused to intervene when one of her twins died in her womb.

Italy is a special case in Europe, where the general trend in recent decades has been to remove obstacles to abortion, notes Lea Hoctor, director of the Center for Reproductive Health in Europe.

To reach it, patients have to face a set of obstacles (…) due to this widespread refusal of care and the complete abdication of the state. this is unacceptableShe told AFP.

You can’t force a doctor to kill

Rome has twice been condemned by the Council of Europe on this subject, without this having resulted in the slightest progress.

Conscientious objectors invoke their Catholic faith, while the Church is adamant about abortion, recently described as “killingby Pope Francis.

You can’t force a doctor to killLorena, 60, is a mother of 12 at an anti-abortion rally, declining to give her last name.

The Italian Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which did not respond to interview requests, tells AFP that its mission is “Fighting the culture of death“and for”Promote respect for human life in its entirety, from conception to natural death“.

According to many pro-abortion activists, conscientious objection has mostly become a matter of personal interest rather than a moral position. Michele Mariano, the only doctor in Molise to perform abortions, explained last year to the daily La Repubblica that “Those who perform abortions do not earn a profession“.

It’s hard to resist in a country with a low birth rate where the majority of hospital doctors are against, where abortion is not considered part of doctors’ basic education and where sex education in school is not mandatory.

Also, some pharmacists refuse to dispense birth control pills in the morning after they have been banned.

Politics also plays a role, with attempts to restrict access to abortion in some areas controlled by right-wing parties with close ties to the Church.

Piedmont, a wealthy northwestern region dominated by a coalition dominated by the far right, announced in April that it would give 4,000 euros to 100 women considering economic abortion to reconsider their decision.

Unlike in the United States, abolition of the right to abortion is not at the top of the political platforms on the right.

Pro-abortion activists, who want to improve current legislation, fear opening Pandora’s Box: “No one dares to bring back the law on the right to abortion for fear that reopening the file will lead to deterioration.From the applicable texts, gynecologist Mirella Paracchini summarizes.

with AFP

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