Abortion -- conscientious objections remain high in Italy

The Italian Ministry of Health has released 2017 data on the implementation of the country's abortion laws. Yet again, there are still high numbers of conscientious objections to this proceedure.

Ingrid Colanicchia
Ingrid Colanicchia MicroMega, Italy
Source: MicroMega
Abortion -- conscientious objections remain high in Italy - NewsMavens
Woman in Italy, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

While drafting this brief comment on the 2017 abortion data in Italy, I was struck with the thought that I could simply copy-paste material from earlier articles. Because every year, the facts are the same.

Numerous cases of conscientious objection, especially in some areas of the country, hinder women's access to abortion and complicate the work of those who are effectively implementing exisiting abortion laws.

And in times such as these, we should perhaps "rejoice" to still be facing these old problems, because things are getting tense at the political level. In recent months, almost everywhere in the country, municipal "pro-life" motions have sprung up as various Italian cities have decreed themselves to be "in favor of life" (and therefore against abortion). The first was Verona, followed by Ferrara, Rome, Milan and, according to the declaration  by the young leader of the Lega, Roberto Todeschini, the "praiseworthy" initiative will be brought to all the municipalities governed by Salvini's party "in order to extend it to the regional and national level."

There are also important government officials with similar opinions, for example the Minister of the Family, Lorenzo Fontana, who immediately declared that "the family is natural" and that "unfortunately it is not this government's mandate to restrict abortion."

What seems not to occur -- or worse, not to be of interest --  to all of them is that the only alternatives to free and safe abortion are forced pregnancies or clandestine abortions. In short, the health of women is the least of their concerns.

Details from the story:

  • On January 18 -- 11 months late -- the Ministry of Health released the 2017 data on the implementation of Law 194 of 1978, namely the law on voluntary termination of pregnancy.
  • In total, 80,733 terminations were carried out in 2017, confirming a continuous decrease in the phenomenon, even more so than in 2016 (-4.9% compared to 2016 and -65.6% compared to 1982, the year with the highest number of terminations -- 234,801 cases).
  • The numbers of conscientious objections are confirmed to be high: on a national scale, 68.4% of gynecologists object; 45.6% of anesthetists; and 38.9% of non-medical personnel.
  • In some regions the figures are even higher: in Molise 96.4% of gynecologists object; in Basilicata 88%; in Bolzano, 85% of gynecologists and 63.3% of anesthetists.
  • The total number of establishments with departments of obstetrics and gynecology or only gynecology, in 2017 amounts to 591, but there are only 381 who carry out terminations of pregnancy -- 64.5% of the total.
  • Recently, the Council of Europe's Social Rights Committee stressed that in Italy there are considerable disparities in access to interruption of pregnancy depending on the region.
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