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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A Lesson in Medicine and Morality: Argentine Physician Pioneers Abortion Education in Medical School

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A Lesson in Medicine and Morality: Argentine Physician Pioneers Abortion Education in Medical School

A group of Argentine doctors moves beyond the polarized political debate to equip a new generation of medical professionals with the training necessary to care for patients who requiring abortion care.

By Marissa Rosenberg-Carlson -
Jun 17, 2017

Dr. Raquel Tizziani identifies herself as an educator. Anti-abortion activists think she’s a murderer. The professor of medicine at the National University of Rosario (UNR) is spearheading Argentina’s first university curriculum on abortion. Two months before the program’s start date, its faculty is already under fire. In the three days after UNR announced the plan, no fewer than 10,000 emails demanding an immediate halt to the program flooded the inbox of Ricardo Nidd, Dean of the College of Medicine.

Continued at source: The Bubble: http://www.thebubble.com/a-lesson-in-medicine-and-morality-argentine-physician-pioneers-abortion-education-in-medical-school/

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Provider obstruction: a major threat to critical maternal health services in Northern Ghana

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Provider obstruction: a major threat to critical maternal health services in Northern Ghana
17 April 2017
Source: Mathias Aboba

A study has revealed that access to critical maternal health care service in the three regions of Northern Ghana; Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions is impeded with clinicians refusing to provide some legally prescribed services due to their moral or religious beliefs.

The research known as the Conscientious Objection to Legal Abortion Care was undertaken by reproductive health advocacy network, Global Doctors for Choice-Ghana (GDC, Ghana).

Continued at source: Ghana Web: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/health/Provider-obstruction-a-major-threat-to-critical-maternal-health-services-in-Northern-Ghana-529455

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Swedish anti-abortion midwife goes to European court over discrimination

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Swedish anti-abortion midwife goes to European court over discrimination

By AFP
14th April 2017

A Swedish anti-abortion midwife is going to the European Court of Human Rights after being denied employment in her country, her lawyer said on Thursday.

Ellinor Grimmark says she cannot carry out abortions because of her Christian faith and that she's been discriminated against by several clinics because of it.

The case has sparked a fierce debate in Sweden, one of the most liberal countries in the world, where abortion rates are among the highest in Europe and religious faith one of the lowest.

Continued at source: New Vision: http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1451079/swedish-anti-abortion-midwife-goes-european-court-discrimination

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Swedish court rules against midwife in abortion case

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Swedish court rules against midwife in abortion case

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
By The Associated Press, AP

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A Swedish court has ruled that a midwife who was denied employment had not been discriminated against because of her refusal to perform abortions.

Sweden's Labor Court said Wednesday that it found no cause to suspect that Ellinor Grimmark's "freedom of opinion and expression had been violated."

Continued at source: Biz1190: http://biz1190.com/news/business/swedish-court-rules-against-midwife-in-abortion-case

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Australia: This Woman’s Doctor Refused Her Abortion Because She Was “Meant To Be A Mother”

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This Woman’s Doctor Refused Her Abortion Because She Was “Meant To Be A Mother”
"His response horrified me."

Posted on April 09, 2017, 04:06 GMT
Gina Rushton
BuzzFeed News Reporter, Australia

Adelaide financial advisor Tamsyn*, 46, fell pregnant while using the contraceptive pill at age 31 and living in Queensland, where abortion remains in the criminal code.

The procedure is only lawful in Queensland if performed so as to “prevent serious danger to the woman’s physical or mental health” but around 14,000 terminations take place there every year involving women who meet the criteria or have doctors who are willing to say they do.

"I knew immediately that I couldn't have a baby, I needed an abortion," Tamsyn told BuzzFeed News.

Continued at source: Buzzfeed: https://www.buzzfeed.com/ginarushton/this-womans-doctor-refused-her-abortion

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Can faith and freedom co-exist? When faith-based health providers and women’s needs clash

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Can faith and freedom co-exist? When faith-based health providers and women's needs clash

by Jon O'Brien
Editor: Caroline Sweetman
Gender & Development Volume 25 Issue 1 Fundamentalisms
28 Mar 2017
DOI: 10.1080/13552074.2017.1286808
Publisher: Oxfam GB, Routledge

Faith-based health providers are a major component of health services delivery in many developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. They receive millions of dollars annually from unilateral and bilateral aid agencies to deliver care. At the same time, they often use conservative interpretations of religious teachings to deny access to essential health care, including reproductive health care and HIV/AIDS prevention services. How can we balance the presence of faith-based providers against the rights and needs of women and other vulnerable populations to receive the care they need?

Continued at source: Oxfam: http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/can-faith-and-freedom-co-exist-when-faith-based-health-providers-and-womens-nee-620228

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Sweden: Where conscientious objection to abortion is not recognised in law

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Sweden: Where conscientious objection to abortion is not recognised in law
March 17, 2017
by Safe Abortion

In Sweden, conscientious objection is not recognised in law. A Swedish midwife who refused to participate in abortions or prescribe contraceptives, which are part of the job description for midwives, was turned down for jobs in three clinics in the region of Joenkoeping in 2014.

Her case was tried by Sweden’s discrimination ombudsman and appealed to the district court. Both ruled against her claims of discrimination in 2015. The district court ordered her to pay the authorities’ legal costs. She then appealed to the Labour Court. Her anti-abortion lawyers argue on human rights grounds that her freedom of religion and freedom of conscience have been breached, and that she has been discriminated against.

Her legal team call themselves Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers. Her legal and financial backing, however, comes from a group called Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian US anti-abortion group, well-known in the USA, that declared net assets of $4.9m on its US tax return in 2015.

The president of the Swedish Association of Midwives. Mia Ahlberg, says it is important that ADF’s role in this case is becoming known in Sweden. In January 2017, when the case opened in the Labour Court, she told Radio Sweden: “I have been discussing this a lot and people think that ‘well, she is just alone, it is just one midwife fighting, it is like the small one against the big one’. But this is not the case. This is a global, very strong, well-funded organisation that is trying to get their message though in different countries in different ways. And it is very, very important that this gets out, so you know what is behind it, so you know who you are fighting against,” she said.

Indeed, this group’s anti-abortion tactics in the USA are being repeated in Sweden – to tie up the courts with suits that are not supported in national law, for the publicity and the nuisance value, and to tie up and wear down the pro-choice movement in opposing them. Thus, it is less well-known that in 2015, another Swedish midwife also sued her health authority after she was denied employment when she said she would not carry out abortions. She too was represented by the same lawyers as the midwife in the current case, and she too was supported by ADF.

This case is said to be an important piece of the ADF’s anti-abortion lobbying activity in Europe, as their aim is to influence European abortion law. They say they are prepared to go all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights. One can only hope that the Swedish courts will soon deny them the right of appeal, to stop this dragging on.

The arguments for her case

Using human rights language, the midwife’s lawyers have argued that the European Union and Europe’s main human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, call for “freedom of conscience for healthcare professionals” concerning abortions. And that Sweden’s neighbours, Norway and Denmark, have specific clauses allowing this in their healthcare systems. Abortions are only “a very limited part of the work” of a Swedish midwife, the lawyers claim. It seems her unwillingness to provide contraception is being left out of their arguments, however, at least in the media reports.

Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is part of Swedish law, has also been cited by her lawyers, as requiring states to safeguard “freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. However, this Convention also allows for restrictions on this right, in certain cases, including “for the protection of health” of other citizens.

Moreover, the only two reasons why conscientious objection exists in the laws of many countries as regards abortion is because a) abortion is considered “controversial”, a label the anti-abortion movement works hard to promote and maintain, and b) because abortion is in the criminal law and therefore has a different status. No other form of health care provision includes the right of conscientious objection.

The anti-abortion movement’s addition of the right to object to providing contraception, which in most countries is neither controversial nor covered by the criminal law, has failed to gain any legal traction, even in the USA – where they then changed their tactic to trying to remove contraception from the list of services covered by government-funded health insurance.

The arguments against her case

Sweden’s policy on abortion follows the principle that “the needs of the patient always come first”, Mia Ahlberg explained to the BBC. The key point is that the midwife has a choice – she can always choose another profession – but in many cases a woman having an abortion could not choose to become pregnant. She argues that the case is about women’s rights, women’s human rights and women’s access to good, safe healthcare.

What about the freedom of conscience argument? If the midwife were to win, she said, it could have a big impact on Swedish healthcare: “For example, a nurse who is a Jehovah’s Witness might refuse to perform a blood transfusion.” Swedish midwives’ training includes abortion procedures and after-care. “It’s part of our professional competence – so the employer has a right to say ‘you cannot work here’… Swedish midwives today do abortions quite independently in some units.” Although Sweden does not have enough midwives, she says, that is not a reason to make an exception for one midwife, stressing that women’s rights and the integrity of midwifery are at stake and must be defended.

In effect, what she is saying is that the anti-abortion argument is always the same argument, dressed in different clothing. It not only puts the fetus first but also puts the objecting midwife first. It is just another way of saying that the woman and her needs and rights do not come first and do not take precedence over every other competing claim.

SOURCES: BBC News, 26 January 2017 ; Radio Sweden, 24 January 2017 ; LOGO

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Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/sweden-where-conscientious-objection-to-abortion-is-not-recognised-in-law/

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Women’s Link sues the health department of the Region of Murcia, Spain, for violating the right to a dignified abortion

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Women’s Link sues the health department of the Region of Murcia, Spain, for violating the right to a dignified abortion

The organization is representing Ana, a woman who was denied information regarding her fetus’s condition by the health department, and so was prevented from accessing abortion services in a dignified manner.

On International Women's Day, March 8, Women’s Link is demanding access to a safe, legal and dignified abortion for all women in Spain

Country: Spain Date: 07/03/2017

Madrid, March 7, 2017 – Women’s Link is suing the health department of the Region of Murcia, Spain, for violating the rights of their client Ana (not her real name), a woman who was denied information on the serious condition affecting her fetus for almost six weeks. Due to this violation of her right to information, as well as the discrimination she faced in the Santa Lucía de Cartagena Public Hospital in Murcia, she was not able to access abortion services in a dignified way, and as a result suffered serious physical and psychological harm.

Continued at source: Women's Link Worldwide: http://www.womenslinkworldwide.org/en/news-and-publications/press-room/women-s-link-sues-the-health-department-of-the-region-of-murcia-spain-for-violating-the-right-to-a-dignified-abortion

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