Women of colour endure discrimination in Austria’s gynecological care

Women with a migration background may be receiving wrong information about reproduction

Written by Fausia A.
Posted 8 April 2021

Abortion is legal in Austria within the first three months of pregnancy after consultation with a doctor. And every year, around 30,000 abortions are performed in Austria. Women of colour make up for more than a third of those who undergo an abortion, and nearly half of them were not born in Austria. Why is this?

According to a report by Austrian gynecologist Dr. Christian Fiala, 40 per cent of immigrants use effective prevention methods in comparison to 58 per cent of people born in Austria. It is considered the first, and to date, the only, representative study on the topic of sexuality and prevention in Austria for people aged between 16 and 49 years old.

Continued: https://globalvoices.org/2021/04/08/women-of-colour-endure-discrimination-in-austrias-gynecological-care/

In Austria, a unique museum in the world dedicated to contraception and abortion

by Bhavi Mandalia 
September 28, 2020

The Austrian capital is home to a museum that is unique in the world: that of contraception and abortion. This little private museum was created in 2007 by gynecologist Christian Fiala who practiced in several African countries before settling in Vienna. He started from a simple observation: the history of contraception and that of abortion remain unknown for many.

Christian Fiala therefore decided to collect various objects that he exhibits by contextualizing them to allow visitors to better understand their fertility in order to better protect themselves.

Continued: https://pledgetimes.com/in-austria-a-unique-museum-in-the-world-dedicated-to-contraception-and-abortion/

Expert group denounces the refusal to treat under ‘conscientious objection’

Expert group denounces the refusal to treat under 'conscientious objection'

Joyce Arthur
July 5, 2018

For the first time ever, an expert group has arrived at a majority consensus that the practice of so-called "conscientious objection" by health-care professionals should not be allowed. The experts agreed that the practice of refusing to provide legal and essential health care due to a doctor's personal or religious beliefs is a violation of medical ethics and of patients' right to health care. Abortion and other reproductive health care are the most commonly refused services.

Unconscionable: When Providers Deny Abortion Care is the title of the expert group's just-released report with recommendations. It is a product of the first global meeting on the topic of "conscientious objection," which took place in Montevideo, Uruguay in August 2017 because the refusal to treat is a major barrier to abortion access in many Latin American countries.

Continued: http://rabble.ca/columnists/2018/07/expert-group-denounces-refusal-treat-under-conscientious-objection

Germany’s medical system sidelines abortion

Germany's medical system sidelines abortion
Abortion doctors can be hard to find in Germany. In some cities there are none, and their number appears to be declining, while medical schools often fail to teach the procedure so crucial to women. Papayas help a bit.

Date 11.05.2018
Author Nancy Isenson

Around 101,200 abortions were performed in Germany in 2017, or 277 each day. It's not exactly a rare procedure. Which is why future doctor Alicia Baier was disturbed to find that abortion played virtually no role in her studies at Berlin's Charité university medical school.

"In six years of studies, in which we learn many details that we will not need later, we learn almost nothing about such an important intervention," she says.

Continued: http://www.dw.com/en/germanys-medical-system-sidelines-abortion/a-43702057

A Hitler-Era Abortion Law Haunts Merkel, and Germany

A Hitler-Era Abortion Law Haunts Merkel, and Germany

MARCH 27, 2018

BERLIN — She was an obscure gynecologist in a central German town who never intended to stoke a debate that is driving a wedge into Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new government. But faced with a fine under a Nazi-era law for publishing information about abortion on the website of her gynecological practice, Kristina Hänel said she had no choice but to publicize a prohibition that she calls “outdated and unnecessary.”

The law, paragraph 219a of the German criminal code, makes it a crime for doctors to publicly advertise in any way that they perform abortions, even though they are permitted in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. For decades, the advertising ban was largely overlooked. Many gynecologists who listed abortion among their offerings to prospective patients say they were not aware of its existence until they received notice from a prosecutor informing them of legal proceedings against them.

Continued: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/27/world/europe/germany-nazi-era-abortion-law.html

After a rocky start, the IUD is now celebrating its 50th birthday

After a rocky start, the IUD is now celebrating its 50th birthday
A Likhaan NGO health worker shows an Intrauterine family planning device to housewives at a reproductive health

Written by Katherine Ellen Foley
January 27, 2018

Until relatively recently, scientists didn’t really understand contraception.

The earliest efforts on record to prevent unwanted pregnancy, from ancient Egypt, were to simply clog the uterus—rocks seemed to work well enough in animals like cows and camels (although the logistics of inserting those are a little fuzzy). For obvious reasons, that was not a suitable option for humans.

Continued: https://qz.com/1189274/after-a-rocky-start-the-iud-is-now-celebrating-its-50th-birthday/

MUVS Photography Competition: Stock Photos on Abortion

MUVS Photography Competition: Stock Photos on Abortion

Dec 28, 2017

Abortion is still a taboo: The topic is annoying, polarizing, stigmatizing, and even criminalizes women. Media coverage on abortion represents a one-sided visual language for a simple reason: Little to no useful stock photo material is available to depict the reality of this part of life. Therefore, MUVS Vienna is reaching out to obtain photographs that illustrate the critical situation of a woman (or couple) with an unwanted pregnancy in a realistic way. Photographers are invited to grapple with the difficult topic of unwanted pregnancy and abortion in a creative way. MUVS wants this competition to contribute in a useful and important way to the further destigmatisation of abortion.

There was a lot of positive, appreciative feedback, and the images submitted illustrate just how heterogeneous the theme is. A four-person jury, from the fields of journalism, photography, art and medicine selected the three main prize winners and awarded an additional three commendation prizes.

The winner of our photo competition, Christina Lag-Schröckenstein, together with her model, Veronika, was presented with her prize in a low-key event at the MUVS. The photographer saw it as a challenge to approach with sensitivity and understanding a competition whose intention it was to objectively illustrate the life circumstances of women affected by unwanted pregnancies, and to thus create a counterpoint to the so far one-sided portrayal of this topic in the media. The photographer made it her goal to depict a self-aware woman who reaches her decisions autonomously and without any outside influence. An undertaking she succeeded in, and which was appreciated by the four people on the jury.

The winning photos and further information can be found at http://abortion-pictures.info/en/.

Source: http://en.muvs.org/museum/muvs-photography-competition/

Winning Abortion Photos Available for Free Use

Winning Abortion Photos Available for Free Use
Dec 28, 2017
Christina Lag-Schrockenstein 1st prize MUVS-Vienna

The Museum of Contraception and Abortion in Vienna, known as MUVS, has announced the winners of its abortion photo contest.

Ten winning photographs on abortion are available for free use in illustrating stories and articles on abortion and unplanned pregnancy. These stock photos were selected to expand the exceedingly limited visual vocabulary that is seen in public imagery, as described in an earlier blog.

Continued at source: https://wordsofchoice.blogspot.ca/2017/12/winning-abortion-photos-available-for.html

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

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/

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

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


“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/