ITALY – Abortion provider postpones retirement as search continues to find someone to replace him

An Italian doctor, age 69, has postponed his retirement until the end of the year because there is no one else to carry out abortions in his region of Molise, an area of 300,000 people on the east coast of Italy. He is the only gynaecologist in the region working for the public sector who provides abortions. The authorities say they are struggling to recruit a replacement. A second gynaecologist has been assigned to help him but only part-time. If no one is found then women will have to go to a private clinic or travel to another region for a termination.

The doctor, Michele Mariano, 69, told La Repubblica: “I have been doing this job for 40 years. My hope is that someone will show up to continue my job.”

As has often been reported before, Health Ministry figures show that 70-80% of public hospital gynaecologists refuse to provide abortions, supposedly on religious or moral grounds. The worst areas are Sicily, Apulia, Basilicata and the German-speaking province of Bolzano.

Abortion rights advocates say the real reason for such widespread refusals is because doctors who declare themselves conscientious objectors may have better chances of obtaining a top hospital position.

Health Ministry figures also show that abortions have fallen significantly from a peak of 234,000 in 1982 to around 76,000 in 2018. Is that because of far more effective contraceptive use, or women aren’t having abortions anymore because no one is providing them, or due to increasing access to medical abortion pills outside the apparently permanently powerless and dysfunctional health system that refuses to meet women’s needs?

SOURCES: Telegraph UK, by Alvise Armellini, 26 July 2021 ; La Repubblica, by Valentina Ruggiu, 25 July 2021 + PHOTO