Ireland – Abortion laws ‘must not leave doctors in fear of prosecution’

Abortion laws ‘must not leave doctors in fear of prosecution’

Jennifer Bray, Ireland Deputy Political Editor
August 24 2018

The government has been urged to improve its draft legislation on abortion to stop doctors interpreting the new laws too conservatively.

A position paper by experts from Dublin City University, the University of Birmingham and Queen Mary University of London said that the government should consider asking doctors who have a conscientious objection to providing abortion care to declare it before the law comes into effect. Clinical guidelines that are due to be introduced alongside the legislation should clarify when and how a doctor who holds a conscientious objection should disclose it, it says.

Continued: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/abortion-laws-must-not-leave-doctors-in-fear-of-prosecution-wpwvkqnsp

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How ‘conscientious objectors’ threaten women’s newly-won abortion rights in Latin America

How ‘conscientious objectors’ threaten women’s newly-won abortion rights in Latin America
From Uruguay to Chile, medical staff are refusing to provide abortion services even after their legalisation.

Diana Cariboni
18 July 2018

Women’s rights to legal abortion have increased in Latin America – but so have campaigns and policies for medical staff to be able to ‘conscientiously object’ and refuse to participate in these procedures.

“We didn’t see it coming,” said feminist activist Lilián Abracinskas in Uruguay, a secular country where abortion, same-sex marriage and the marijuana market were each legalised in the last decade.

Continued: https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/diana-cariboni/conscientious-objectors-threaten-abortion-rights-latin-america

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Ireland – Public list of GPs providing abortion ‘now likely’

Public list of GPs providing abortion 'now likely'
Pharmacists seek right to have conscientious objection

Eilish O'Regan and Shona Murray
June 12 2018

A public list of GPs who are registered to provide medical abortions may be necessary to ensure women looking for a termination are not left confused about where to get the service, it emerged yesterday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar reiterated that while GPs can have a conscientious objection to providing medical abortions, they will be ethically obliged to refer a woman to a doctor who is participating in the scheme.

Continued; https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/public-list-of-gps-providing-abortion-now-likely-37000509.html

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Ireland – GPs group calls on Harris to ensure doctors must ‘opt in’ to provide abortion services

GPs group calls on Harris to ensure doctors must 'opt in' to provide abortion services
The NAGP passed a series of motions after an emergency meeting today following the result of the referendum.

June 9, 2018

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of General Practitioners (NAGP) have held an emergency meeting to discuss the outcome of the Eighth Amendment referendum, and passed motions calling for an “opt-in” provision for doctors to provide abortion services.

The NAGP have also called for a conscientious objection provision to be inserted into any legislation passed by government in the wake of the referendum result.

Continued: http://www.thejournal.ie/abortion-services-gps-4057863-Jun2018/

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Italy: Thousands of Women Marched to Demand Pro-Choice Laws

Italy: Thousands of Women Marched to Demand Pro-Choice Laws

Published 27 May 2018

Thousands of Italian women marched across the country Saturday, under the banner, 'My Body, My Choice' to mark 40 years of the passing of the historic 1978 law, Law 194, which legalized abortion in a largely Catholic country.

The 194 law legalized the voluntary termination of pregnancy (VTP), however, the law, which has been criticized by women’s groups for restricting "self-determination", is being threatened by a growing far-right and anti-choice movement in the country as well as a neoliberal approach to the restructuring of the health system.

Continued; https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Italy-Thousands-of-Women-Marched-to-Demand-Pro-Choice-Laws--20180527-0006.html

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Italy’s far right uses Irish vote to boost anti-abortion campaign

Italy's far right uses Irish vote to boost anti-abortion campaign
ProVita activists boost campaign in run-up to 40th anniversary of legalisation of abortion

Angela Giuffrida in Rome
Sat 19 May 2018

Activists and far-right politicians have seized on Italy’s low birth rate and the attention on Ireland’s referendum on abortion to boost their own campaign to outlaw the practice.

As the 40th anniversary of Italy’s legalisation of abortion approaches, the renewed effort also comes as the far-right League, which contains many anti-abortion militants, stands on the brink of forming a government with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement following inconclusive general elections in March.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/19/italys-far-right-use-irish-abortion-referendum-to-boost-pro-life-campaign

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Chilean women’s lives at risk with ‘backdoor’ restrictions on new abortion law

Chilean women's lives at risk with 'backdoor' restrictions on new abortion law

Anastasia Moloney
April 5, 2018

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Women and girls in Chile, including rape victims, will find it harder to access legal abortions - after a total ban was lifted in August - as the government has started allowing clinics to deny services on moral grounds, campaigners said on Thursday.

The new law, allowing abortions when women’s lives are in danger or if a fetus is unviable or the result of rape, was welcomed by rights groups in a region with some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws.

Continued: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-chile-abortion-women/chilean-womens-lives-at-risk-with-backdoor-restrictions-on-new-abortion-law-idUSKCN1HC2VI

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

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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Improper Use of Conscientious Objection in Bogotá, Colombia, Presents a Barrier to Safe, Legal Abortion Care

New Study Identifies Avenues for Intervention

August 10, 2016

Health care providers who invoke conscientious objection to providing or participating in abortion care in Bogotá, Colombia, can be categorized along a spectrum of objection—extreme, moderate and partial—finds a new study published in International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. The study, “‘The Fetus Is My Patient, Too’: Attitudes Toward Abortion and Referral Among Physician Conscientious Objectors in Bogotá, Colombia,” by Lauren Fink of Emory University, et al., seeks to understand conscientious objection from the perspective of objectors themselves in order to help identify potential interventions to ease the burden of conscientious objection as a barrier to care.

When the Colombian Constitutional Court partially decriminalized abortion in 2006, the Court established a right to abortion in three circumstances: when the life or health (including mental well-being) of the mother is at risk; when a fetal anomaly is incompatible with life; and when the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest or forced insemination. The Court also outlined guidelines for health care providers who wish to invoke conscientious objection. Individuals can object, but institutions cannot; objecting physicians have a duty to refer patients to another provider; and conscientious objection “may not involve disregard for the rights of women.” Nevertheless, improperly exercised conscientious objection is not uncommon in Colombia, leading many women to seek clandestine abortions, which are often unsafe. The authors conducted in-depth interviews with 13 key informants and 15 Colombian physicians who self-identified as conscientious objectors to better understand how conscientious objection is exercised.

On the basis of these interviews, the study finds that objection falls along a spectrum; it identifies three types of objectors, according to a set of characteristics shared among them. Extreme objectors believe it is their medical, ethical and religious duty to refuse to perform abortions and to prevent their patients from having an abortion. To that end, they try to change their patients’ minds, provide misleading legal and medical information, and refuse to refer their patients.

Moderate objectors tend to be religious, but are more tolerant of other perspectives; they do not seek to actively stop their patients from having abortions and do provide referrals. They also tend to be strong advocates for birth control, including emergency contraception, which they view as preventing abortions. They are generally informed by medical ethics and a commitment to “protect life,” including that of the fetus.

Partial objectors fall into two subcategories: They object either on the basis of gestational age or on a case-by-case basis. Those whose objection is based on gestational age are not motivated by religion and do not consider themselves opponents of abortion. Many are concerned about performing abortions on potentially viable fetuses, although some refuse to perform abortions even early in gestation, citing other concerns. More research is needed on the motivations of case-by-case objectors; one physician interview and comments by key informants suggest that this kind of partial objection is not unusual.

The researchers urge that in order to develop effective interventions to reduce improper use of conscientious objection as a barrier to safe and legal abortion, objectors should not be treated as a homogenous group. Instead, interventions should be tailored to target different types of objectors. For example, dialogues on the value of referral between moderate and extreme objectors who share religious beliefs could help some extreme objectors move toward offering referrals so that their patients do not seek clandestine—and potentially unsafe—abortions. The authors also recommend that continuing medical education and medical school curricula be revised to broaden the bioethical perspective on abortion and reflect the decriminalization of abortion. Furthermore, all physicians, regardless of their objector status, would benefit from values clarification exercises and training about the health exception in the abortion law. Finally, the researchers suggest that the limited nature of the decriminalization of abortion in Colombia allows conscientious objectors to act as gatekeepers and mislead women about their rights. Expanding the country’s abortion law to allow abortion on request, they say, would maintain objectors’ rights while reducing their ability to act as barriers to safe, legal abortion care.

“‘The Fetus Is My Patient, Too’: Attitudes Toward Abortion and Referral Among Physician Conscientious Objectors in Bogotá, Colombia,” by Lauren Fink et al., appears in International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health and is currently available online.

Source: Guttmacher Institute

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