#EmbraceEquity: Women’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in humanitarian settings

March 8, 2023
Aude Langlois, Senior Communications and Marketing Coordinator, FIGO

To mark International Women’s Day 2023, FIGO is highlighting the need to embrace equity in women’s health care. Women and girls in crisis settings are at heightened risk of having limited access to essential health care – including sexual and reproductive health services. To defend the rights of women and girls in humanitarian contexts, it is essential to promote and protect the provision of health services.

The increased vulnerability of women and girls in humanitarian crises 
In crisis settings, women and girls face significant hardships when trying to access sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Chronic fragility and displacement among women and girls puts them at high risk of unwanted pregnancy by increasing their risks of sexual violence, transactional and coercive sex, human trafficking, and other forms of sexual exploitation and violence. 

Continued: https://www.figo.org/news/embraceequity-womens-access-sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-rights-humanitarian-settings

Malta – ‘Nurses ready to quit if abortion is legalised’ – MUMN

By Jurgen Balzan
December 17, 2022

The Malta Union for Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) has claimed that it is informed that a number of nurses and midwives are ready to quit their jobs if abortion is legalised.

This comes as Parliament is currently discussing an amendment that would allow the termination of pregnancies when the woman’s life is at risk and when her health is in grave jeopardy. Government insists that such a legal amendment is necessary as under current laws doctors and women are liable to criminal prosecution if a pregnancy is terminated under any circumstance.

Continued: https://newsbook.com.mt/en/nurses-ready-to-quit-if-abortion-is-legalised-mumn/

Many Hospitals Refuse To Provide Reproductive Care, Even In States Where Abortion Remains Legal

Emily Stewart
NOVEMBER 16, 2022

Voter approval of ballot measures protecting abortion rights in three states on Election Day was an important first step toward addressing the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Since that ruling, at least 13 states have implemented restrictions rendering access to abortion almost nonexistent. Still more states have applied extreme limits. People seeking abortion care are being forced to travel to other states, or figure out how to obtain medication abortion through the mail (which may not be their preference). Health providers are struggling to determine what pregnancy emergency care they can provide without violating newly-enacted abortion bans. Too many are unable to overcome these hurdles to get the care they need.

Continued: https://www.healthaffairs.org/content/forefront/many-hospitals-refuse-provide-reproductive-care-even-states-abortion-remains-legal

Four doctors found guilty of manslaughter for the death of Valentina Milluzzo in 2016, who had been 19 weeks pregnant with twins

SOURCE: La Sicilia
28 October 2022   
(translated from Italian)

Three doctors were acquitted, and four were sentenced to six months each for manslaughter, though with suspended sentences. This was the verdict of the Criminal Court of Catania in the trial of seven doctors from the Gynaecology and Obstetrics Department of the Cannizzaro Hospital, concerning the death of Valentina Milluzzo, a 32-year-old woman hospitalised in her 19th week of pregnancy, who died on 16 October 2016, after having lost, as a result of two separate miscarriages, the twins she was expecting thanks to assisted fertilisation.

Acquitted, on the grounds that "the facts do not exist" (to find them guilty), were Paolo Scollo, Head Doctor of the Gynaecology and Obstetrics Department, Andrea Benedetto Distefano, the ward doctor, and Francesco Paolo Cavallaro, the anesthesiologist.

Sentenced to six months each in prison, suspended, were the doctors Silvana Campione, Giuseppe Maria Alberto Calvo, Alessandra Coffaro and Vincenzo Filippello, who were "on duty in the ward and in the delivery room, on alternating shifts" between 15 and 16 October 2016. The Court also ordered the payment of a provisional amount of € 30,000 to the victim's sister, Angela Maria Milluzzo, who had become a civil party in the suit, assisted by lawyer Salvatore Catania Milluzzo.

According to the prosecution, the four doctors were guilty of "contributing, in cooperation between them, to the death of the pregnant woman" who had been hospitalised because of the serious risk during the miscarriage of her twin pregnancy.

The Public Prosecutor's Office accused the four doctors of "professional negligence" due to "imprudence, negligence and incompetence". In particular, "the failure to implement adequate antibiotic therapy" on both the 14th and 15th of October, "the failure to promptly recognise sepsis in progress", "the failure to collect samples for microbiological examination", "the failure to promptly remove the source of the infection: the fetuses and placentas" and "the failure to administer blood transfusion during surgery".

All the above described events, said the Public Prosecutor of Catania, would have caused the “transformation of sepsis into irreversible septic shock with consequent multiple organ failure and disseminated intravascular coagulation", which caused the death of the patient.

It was not disputed in the trial that the doctors were conscientious objectors. The case was also handled by the Ministry of Health, which sent inspectors to Cannizzaro Hospital.

Source: https://www.lasicilia.it/cronaca/news/catania-3-medici-assolti-e-4-condannati-per-la-morte-di-valentina-alla-19-settimana-di-gravidanza-1934813/

Five maternity hospitals will not provide abortions until next year

Ellen Coyne
October 24 2022

Five of the country’s maternity hospitals will not be providing abortion services until next year at the earliest, amid conscientious objection from individual obstetricians and a lack of resources.

Another two maternity hospitals are still in talks with the HSE to try to roll out termination of pregnancy services next year, three years after free access to abortion was first legalised in Ireland.

Continued: https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/five-maternity-hospitals-will-not-provide-abortions-until-next-year-42089657.html

Spread of Catholic hospitals limits reproductive care across the U.S.

Religious doctrine restricts access to abortion and birth control and limits treatment options for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies

By Frances Stead Sellers and Meena Venkataramanan
October 10, 2022

The Supreme Court decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion is revealing the growing influence of Catholic health systems and their restrictions on reproductive services including birth control and abortion — even in the diminishing number of states where the procedure remains legal.

Catholic systems now control about 1 in 7 U.S. hospital beds, requiring religious doctrine to guide treatment, often to the surprise of patients. Their ascendancy has broad implications for the evolving national battle over reproductive rights beyond abortion, as bans against it take hold in more than a dozen Republican-led states.

Continued: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/10/10/abortion-catholic-hospitals-birth-control/

Ethiopia expanded access to abortions and it saved lives

By Sara Jerving
17 August 2022

As a medical student and then obstetrician-gynecologist resident at the turn of the millennium, Ethiopian Dr. Muir Kassa’s work was bleak. Across the country, delivery and gynecology rooms were overwhelmed with cases of women that had undergone unsafe abortions.

“Lots of women died at my hands because they attempted unsafe abortions at home, by using some unimaginable ways, like inserting umbrella wires. It becomes very difficult to save her once she already has these complications,” he said.

Continued: https://www.devex.com/news/ethiopia-expanded-access-to-abortions-and-it-saved-lives-103397

Quebec woman speaks out after pharmacist denies her morning-after pill due to his religious beliefs

'It's my decision to make ... It's my body," says 24-year-old woman

CBC News
Aug 05, 2022

A young woman from Saguenay, Que., says she left a local pharmacy feeling shamed after a pharmacist refused to sell her emergency oral contraception, better known as the morning-after pill, because it went against his religious beliefs.

"I felt bad, I felt really judged," said the 24-year-old woman, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.

Continued: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/morning-after-pill-denied-religious-beliefs-1.6541535

Australia – Victorian public hospitals could not prevent doctors from providing abortions under new bill

Reason party leader Fiona Patten, who is introducing the bill, says ‘imposed religious faith has no place in the public health system’

Tamsin Rose
Sun 31 Jul 2022

Public hospitals in Victoria would not be allowed to stop doctors from providing abortions under a bill being introduced to state parliament this week by the crossbench MP Fiona Patten.

The legislation follows the overturning of
the landmark Roe v Wade decision in the US in June, and comes with just four
more sitting weeks before Victorians head to the polls in November.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/aug/01/victorian-public-hospitals-could-not-prevent-doctors-from-providing-abortions-under-new-bill

Abortion in Italy is legal, but finding one is hard

Issued on: 14/06/2022

Rome (AFP) – For 40 years, gynaecologist Michele Mariano has been the only person performing abortions in Italy's conservative Molise region. He has delayed retiring twice because no one will replace him, many refusing to terminate pregnancies as conscientious objectors.

It's an extreme example, but emblematic of a wider issue in Italy, where abortion up to 90 days after conception has been legal since 1978 -- but many healthcare providers don't offer them.

Continued:  https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220614-abortion-in-italy-is-legal-but-finding-one-is-hard