ITALY – Seven doctors on trial for manslaughter in the death in Sicily of Valentina Milluzzo in 2016

ITALY – Seven doctors on trial for manslaughter in the death in Sicily of Valentina Milluzzo in 2016

by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Nov 19, 2019

Seven Italian doctors are on trial for manslaughter, accused of failing to carry out a life-saving abortion as emergency obstetric care in 2016 for Valentina Milluzzo, who began miscarrying when she was 19 weeks pregnant with twins. She died of sepsis, which with prompt and appropriate care, including emergency evacuation of the uterus, can be prevented/treated before it becomes fatal. This cause of death happened to Savita Halapannavar in Ireland four years earlier.

The court has sat twice so far, on 17 and 29 October 2019. The Financial Times reported on 29 October 2019 that the doctors said they could not do an abortion because there was still a fetal heartbeat. If this is true, then they were following Catholic health policy. The Financial Times report says the hospital and staff deny any wrongdoing.


A Miscarrying Woman Nearly Died After a Catholic Hospital Sent Her Home Three Times

A Miscarrying Woman Nearly Died After a Catholic Hospital Sent Her Home Three Times
Washington lawmakers have enacted some of the country’s most progressive policies to protect reproductive health care. But these measures have run up against the state’s high concentration of religious facilities.

Sep 25, 2019
Amy Littlefield

There’s a single hospital in Bellingham, a picturesque coastal city 20 miles from the Canadian border in Washington. So when a Bellingham mental health counselor named Alison started bleeding three months into her pregnancy in 2013, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center was her only option.

Alison had first gone to her OB-GYN’s private practice, where her doctor, C. Shayne Mora, diagnosed her with a possible case of placenta previa, a serious condition where the placenta blocks the cervix. He told her to go to the hospital if she started bleeding again. When that happened the next day, Alison went to the St. Joseph emergency room. After an ultrasound showed the fetus was viable, the hospital discharged her. Providers recorded a clinical impression of “threatened abortion,” meaning Alison was at risk of miscarrying. They told her to return if she bled more heavily or ran a fever.


Hospital conducts abortion on wrong woman after confusing patients

Hospital conducts abortion on wrong woman after confusing patients

Posted : 2019-09-23
By Kim Hyun-bin

A hospital in Seoul performed an abortion on the wrong woman after mixing up two patients.

The Gangseo Police Station said Monday they booked a doctor and a nurse at the hospital in western Seoul on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in injury.


A story from Spain: “The doctors’ right to object nearly cost me my life”

Nov 25, 2016
by Safe Abortion

The health system in Galicia, northwest Spain, was ordered to compensate a woman who lost her uterus after a hospital refused to do an abortion as an emergency obstetric procedure and sent her 354 miles to Madrid, so that she nearly lost her life. The events happened four years ago. The woman learned that the fetus she was carrying had an anomaly incompatible with life only seven months into her pregnancy, due to errors during antenatal diagnosis.

She was then unable to find anyone who would terminate the pregnancy, either in her own town in Galicia or in any of Galicia’s other public hospitals. Eventually, the Galician public health service, SERGAS, declared that “in order to respect the professionals’ right to objection on moral grounds”, the authorities would pay for termination of the pregnancy in a private clinic in Madrid, by which time she was into her 32nd week of pregnancy.

She had to make the trip by car with her partner. She had been having vaginal pains for some days but was told by the hospital it was just wind. In fact, the pain was due to an irregularity in her uterus, affected by the pregnancy. By the time she arrived at the clinic in Madrid, she was bleeding heavily and had to be transferred to a hospital for an emergency caesarean section to remove the fetus, which died soon after. Her uterus had to be removed to stop the bleeding, so now she is unable to have any more children.

The Galician public health service has been ordered to pay out €270,000 in compensation for negligence. This negligence has caused “physical and psychological damage for which there is no compensation”, according to the magistrate who ordered the payment. The woman has been receiving counselling since her loss. Following the court’s decision, the President of Galicia made a public apology to Paula – not her real name – on behalf of the authorities, while declaring he would looking for a formula that would reconcile the right of Galician women to an abortion with doctors’ rights to object on moral grounds to carrying out an abortion.

Paula’s lawyer, Francisca Fernández, says that her client’s case is by no means an isolated one. She has been involved in two other cases where women are suing the public health services in Galicia on account on consequences of conscientious objection. Objection to performing an abortion on moral grounds is covered by Spain’s 2010 abortion law (Article 19.2) but only as long as it does not affect the patient’s access to care. The 2010 law also says that the termination of pregnancies due to fetal anomaly or incurable illness should preferably be carried out in public health service centres as they are more complicated and often required in later pregnancy.

Yet a report entitled Deficiencias e inequidad en los servicios de salud sexual y reproductiva en España” compiled by 13 organizations and published by Médicos del Mundo, highlights that in 2014, not one abortion was carried out in public hospitals in Aragon, Extremadura, Castile-La Mancha and Murcia: all were referred to private clinics.

The President of the National Federation of Family Planning (FPFE), Luis Enrique Sánchez, believes that one of the main reasons that some public hospitals don’t carry out abortions is that the health authorities have not insisted on it as an obligation, allowing gynaecological units to dodge the issue, citing organizational difficulties, a shortage of surgeons or other resources for doing so. “It’s a lack of political will from those in charge of health,” says Sánchez.

SOURCE: El País (English version), by Cristina Huete (translation Heather Galloway), 9 November 2016 ; PHOTO, Getty Images (segment), Madrid, 2013

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion