EUROPE – Proposal to inform European institutions regarding the regulation of conscientious objection to abortion

R Lertxundi, O Ibarrondo, GS Merki-Feld, M Rey-Novoa, S Rowlands S, J Mar

 European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care 2016 Jun;21(3):198-200.



The aim of this paper is to define a set of proposals to inform European institutions in the regulation of conscientious objection to abortion. The board of the European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care (ESC) was informed on the elements that should in the opinion of the authors be included in a future regulation of conscientious objection to abortion in Europe. These elements are outlined in this paper and the debate about them could form the basis for recommendations to the international scientific community and the European institutions. As current measures governing the principle of conscientious objection result in negative consequences regarding women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services, they should be changed. Healthcare services should adopt measures to guarantee that a woman’s right to voluntary abortion is not limited by the practitioner’s stance on the principle of conscientious objection. In the countries where conscientious objection is allowed, the regulation must clearly delineate the extent of the duties and the exemptions of professionals based on the principles of established social consensus. The recommendations included in this document specify measures on the rights of women, the rights and duties of the practitioner, the role of institutions and the role of professional associations.