Driving Women around the Bend: What’s Really Going on with Abortion Access in Italy?

Ceiling above the spiral staircase at the Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy. © BAILEY-COOPER PHOTOGRAPHY / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

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Conscience Magazine, 2016 Issue 2

by Rosie Scammel
Posted Aug 22, 2016

In Italy, it has been nearly 40 years since abortion was legalized—confirmed in a referendum by the Catholic-majority populace—but the system for providing abortions has been deemed so severely flawed that both women and doctors are suffering.

“We have a problem in talking about abortion as a right,” says Elisabetta Canitano, president of Vita di Donna, a gynecologists’ organization for women’s health.

After nearly four decades of practice one would expect the rules to be implemented with few hitches, but the Council of Europe recently identified a string of problems. Nationwide, there has been a decrease in the number of healthcare facilities where abortion is available, while women face excessive waiting times. Overall, there is a shortage of doctors who do not object to abortion provision.
Conscientious Objection: Regulation and Rights

In April, the Council of Europe ruled the situation was so dire that women’s right to health was being violated in Italy. Responding to a claim brought by the country’s biggest trade union, CGIL (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro), the council’s committee of social rights also ruled that the government was violating doctors’ right to dignity at work.

The decision was a further blow to Italy, coming two years after the same committee at the Council of Europe backed International Planned Parenthood Federation’s claim that poor regulation of conscientious objectors within the healthcare system amounted to a violation of women’s rights.

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Source: Conscience Magazine