27 Nov 2018

Croatian women, who owns your bodies?

In Croatia, the right to conscientious objection in reproductive health extends from gynecological clinics to pharmacy counters. 

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Croatian women, who owns your bodies? - NewsMavens
Woman, Pixabay

Why this story matters:

A doctor's refusal to issue birth control pills to a customer in Zagreb divided Croatian public opinion. Some see it as a continuation of the fight against women rights, while others believe doctors should be free to be excluded from a practice they think is wrong on the grounds of their religious, moral or personal beliefs. 

In an interview with Nova TV, Ana Soldo of the Croatian Medical Chamber said that the rights of one group cannot be prioritized over the rights of the other, meaning that doctors have a right to conscientious objection in the same way that women have the right to decide what happens to their body. 

But if the exercise of rights and beliefs of the pharmacist has an impact on the patient's health and access to care, there's no defense for the "conscientious objection" argument -- not only in reproductive health, but for healthcare in general. 

Details from the story:

  • A doctor who refused to sell contraceptive pills in a pharmacy in Zagreb told the customer that she doesn't approve of pills as a form of contraception and therefore, she cannot sell them. No other employee was in the pharmacy at the time. The doctor suggested that the patient to come back the next day, when another person should be working. 
  • "The pharmacist has a right to conscientious objection only if -- by doing that -- he/she doesn't jeopardize life and health of the patient," the ethical code of Croatian doctors states. 
  • This is not the first time a pharmacist has denied a patient's rights. The first registered case took place in Dalmatia several years ago, according to Croatian media. 
  • Conscientious objection to abortion is common among Croatian doctors. Abortion is legal, but doctors have the right to refuse to do it. 

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

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