Women can wait up to a month to see an abortion provider in Queensland says doctor

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Women can wait up to a month to see an abortion provider in Queensland says doctor

November 28 2017
Amy Mitchell-Whittington

Women seeking abortions in regional Queensland after often marginalised and can face month-long waiting lists for an often unaffordable procedure that should be considered “essential healthcare”, a Brisbane-based abortion provider says.

Kalama Emanuel considers herself a “fly-in-fly-out worker” providing terminations to women in Rockhampton once a fortnight, where she said the wait-list can stretch to four weeks.

Continued at source: http://www.watoday.com.au/queensland/women-can-wait-up-to-a-month-to-see-an-abortion-provider-in-queensland-says-doctor-20171120-p4yx4d.html

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Abortion in Italy, a Right Wronged

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Abortion in Italy, a Right Wronged

By ILARIA MARIA SALA
NOV. 13, 2017

Late last month, Cosimo Borraccino, a left-wing member of the regional council for Apulia, in southern Italy, proposed passing a local law to require the enforcement of national legislation granting women access to abortion. His opponents on the council, mostly from center-right parties, said the bill was unnecessary and that Mr. Borraccino was “slamming into a wall of self-evidence.”

Yet when it comes to reproductive rights in Italy, respect of the law is anything but self-evident. In fact, 9 out of 10 gynecologists in Apulia refuse to perform abortions, even though the right to obtain one has been legal since 1978. Nationwide statistics are only slightly less staggering: Seven out of 10 gynecologists in Italy won’t terminate a pregnancy.

Continued at source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/opinion/abortion-italy-conscientious-objectors.html

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UK: I introduced the Abortion Act 50 years ago this week. This is why it now needs extending

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I introduced the Abortion Act 50 years ago this week. This is why it now needs extending

Northern Ireland’s lack of access to abortion and the fact that we won’t decriminalise it altogether in England and Wales puts us miles behind our European neighbours who allow all women to access abortions on request

David Steel
Thursday 26 October 2017

I recently encountered a professor of medicine who fifty years ago was a young medical student witnessing the passing of the Abortion Act into law. His lecturer held up a newly printed copy of the Act and said: “This is a historic day because your generation of doctors will never have to confront the consequences of botched abortions”. If only this had truly been the case.

Continued at source: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/abortion-act-northern-ireland-law-referendum-a8020826.html

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Australia: Rural women face ‘alarming’ abortion service gaps, study finds

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Rural women face 'alarming' abortion service gaps, study finds

By Charlotte King
October 02, 2017

A study into rural doctors' attitudes towards abortion in Victoria has revealed alarming gaps in services for women with unplanned pregnancies.

Researchers from Melbourne University found almost 40 per cent of general practitioner doctors (GPs) in Victoria's west objected to facilitating abortion — more than double the national rate.

Continued at source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-02/access-gaps-to-abortion-services-in-victoria/9007024

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Lessons for Ireland from the Pro-Choice movement in Italy

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Lessons for Ireland from the Pro-Choice movement in Italy
Date: Mon, 2017-09-25

I moved to Ireland from Italy shortly after the Strike4Repeal of the 8th of March, a mass mobilisation on the streets of Dublin in protest of Ireland’s archaic abortion laws, which I followed closely on social media. While still in Italy, I had been involved in organising a successful feminist demonstration in the city where I lived, on that same date (International Women’s Day), and I felt deep sympathy and admiration for the Irish pro-choice activists and the amazing work they were carrying out. At first glance it was unbelievable to me that in a western-European country people still had to take the streets to demand access to abortion. While the Irish situation initially felt like something I could not relate to, I soon remembered where I was from and I had to think twice: despite abortion being legal in my home country, safe and effective access to abortion service is currently utopia.

Continued at source: Worker's Solidarity Movement: https://www.wsm.ie/c/lessons-ireland-pro-choice-italy

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Abortion in Italy Is Legal but Sometimes Difficult to Obtain

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Abortion in Italy Is Legal but Sometimes Difficult to Obtain
We visited the country to find out why.
Lucia Benavides
Sep 12, 2017

Valentina Milluzzo was five months pregnant when she died in a Sicilian hospital in October after her family claimed her doctor refused to perform an abortion that could have potentially saved her life.

Milluzzo, 32, was carrying twins and was first hospitalized in Catania after complications with her pregnancy. According to The Guardian, she gave birth to a stillborn baby and then became ill. Her family claims her doctor refused to remove the other fetus because he objected to abortions and the second fetus still had a "viable heartbeat." Milluzzo died soon after of septic shock. (The hospital has disputed the family's account, saying that though all of the doctors at the hospital were "conscientious objectors" to abortion, "other specialists could technically have been called in if required," according to The Guardian.) Her case is one of many highlighting the struggle to access abortion in Italy.

Continued at source: Teen Vogue: http://www.teenvogue.com/story/abortion-in-italy-is-legal-but-sometimes-difficult-to-obtain

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Refusal to Treat Patients Does Not Work in Any Country—Even If Misleadingly Labelled “Conscientious Objection”

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Letter to the Editor: Refusal to Treat Patients Does Not Work in Any Country—Even If Misleadingly Labelled “Conscientious Objection”

On September 6, 2017 · In Perspectives
Christian Fiala and Joyce H. Arthur

We would like to point out some serious problems and contradictions in the study “Regulation of Conscientious Objection to Abortion: An International Comparative Multiple-Case Study,” by Wendy Chavkin, Laurel Swerdlow, and Jocelyn Fifield (Health and Human Rights Journal, vol. 19, no. 1, 2017).

The study purports to show that it is possible to accommodate health care providers’ “conscientious objection” (CO) to legal abortion while assuring that women with an unwanted pregnancy have access to health care services. The researchers examined four countries—England, Italy, Portugal, and Norway—all Western democracies with laws that allow CO for abortion. They conclude that England, Norway, and Portugal are able to permit CO by law and still provide and fund abortion care. Italy is the major exception, where access to legal abortion is seriously compromised due to a very high number of objectors.

Continued at source: Health & Human Rights Journal: https://www.hhrjournal.org/2017/09/letter-to-the-editor-refusal-to-treat-patients-does-not-work-in-any-country-even-if-misleadingly-labelled-conscientious-objection/

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‘A triumph of reason’: Chile approves landmark bill to ease abortion ban

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'A triumph of reason': Chile approves landmark bill to ease abortion ban

Campaigners hail President Michelle Bachelet’s bill legalising abortion in some circumstances as a victory that opens the way for possible further liberalisation

Piotr Kozak in Santiago
Tuesday 22 August 2017

The decision by Chile’s constitutional court to approve a bill that will allow abortion in some circumstances has been hailed as “a triumph of reason and an act of justice” by campaigners.

The legislation, a victory for the centre-left president, Michelle Bachelet, will allow abortion when a woman’s life is at risk, in case of rape and when a foetus is not viable.

Continued at source: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/aug/22/chile-abortion-bill-michelle-bachelet-a-triumph-of-reason-ease-abortion-ban

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The Discussion on Conscientious Objection

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The Discussion on Conscientious Objection

Posted on August 10, 2017 by Nomtika

All roads led to Uruguay last week, between July 31st and August 4th, as 5 SRJC members took to Montevideo for the International Convention on Conscientious Objection.

The meeting, co-hosted by Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU) and the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), featured policymakers, academics, health professionals, legal experts, and feminist activists who collectively established that objecting to the provision of voluntary abortion services on religious or moral grounds, is a chief barrier to safe abortion and endangers the lives of women.

Continued at source: Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition: http://srjc.org.za/2017/08/10/the-discussion-on-conscientious-objection/

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There is no defense for ‘conscientious objection’ in reproductive health care

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There is no defense for ‘conscientious objection’ in reproductive health care

by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Aug 8, 2017

by Christian Fiala, Joyce H Arthur  

European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology

Abstract

“A widespread assumption has taken hold in the field of medicine that we must allow health care professionals the right to refuse treatment under the guise of ‘conscientious objection’ (CO), in particular for women seeking abortions. At the same time, it is widely recognized that the refusal to treat creates harm and barriers for patients receiving reproductive health care. In response, many recommendations have been put forward as solutions to limit those harms. Further, some researchers make a distinction between true CO and ‘obstructionist CO’, based on the motivations or actions of various objectors.

This paper argues that ‘CO’ in reproductive health care should not be considered a right, but an unethical refusal to treat. Supporters of CO have no real defence of their stance, other than the mistaken assumption that CO in reproductive health care is the same as CO in the military, when the two have nothing in common (for example, objecting doctors are rarely disciplined, while the patient pays the price). Refusals to treat are based on non-verifiable personal beliefs, usually religious beliefs, but introducing religion into medicine undermines best practices that depend on scientific evidence and medical ethics. CO therefore represents an abandonment of professional obligations to patients. Countries should strive to reduce the number of objectors in reproductive health care as much as possible until CO can feasibly be prohibited. Several Scandinavian countries already have a successful ban on CO.”

The main text of the paper opens by saying: “Remarkably, pro-choice researchers and ethicists who support CO in reproductive health care rarely try to defend the practice beyond a simple assertion that individual conscience is an important right. Certainly this is true for everybody in general, but in the field of reproductive health care, there has been little or no recognition of how CO unjustly privileges doctors’ conscience over patients’ conscience, not to mention their life and health[1]. The granting of CO also gives legitimacy to the religiously-based assumption that abortion is wrong − however, providing safe abortion is an ethical practice that has saved the lives and protected the rights of millions of women. Moreover, doctors have obligations to their patients and the public. They occupy a privileged position of trust and responsibility in our society, and profit from a monopoly on the practice of medicine.”

An important argument they put forward is that the “largely religious and non-verifiable basis of CO makes the laws and policies that try to limit its exercise impossible to enforce”. Later, they continue: “Anyone can cite CO and lie or exaggerate. Or be sincere. Who knows? The only way we can judge is in rare evidence-based situations, such as when doctors in Italy and Poland are caught exercising ‘CO’ in public hospitals while doing abortions for profit in private clinics.”

But the crucial question they pose is: Is it possible to protect providers’ claimed right to refuse to treat patients and patients’ right to health care at the same time? Their answer is: the more objectors there are, the less possible it is to protect patients’ right to health care. So they argue that “as a first step towards mitigating the harms of CO, countries could at least require all publicly-funded hospitals to provide abortions, as Portugal has done”. Finally, they call for countries “to steadily reduce the number of objectors and eventually abolish CO, not save it.”

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/there-is-no-defense-for-conscientious-objection-in-reproductive-health-care/

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