By a vote of 8-2 on 13 December 2018, Chile’s Constitutional Court struck down a portion of the Regulation on Conscientious Objection of the Law on Abortion that prohibited private hospitals and clinics to refuse to perform abortions on grounds of conscience if they received state money for obstetric and gynaecological services. The Court had accepted an appeal in early December by senators of the Chile Vamos coalition (four centre-right parties headed by President Piñera), … Continued
“‘But I do not do that kind of thing!’ That’s what my gynaecologist told me the day I went to her needing an abortion”, Lisa recalls. “I was 19 years old, I was terrified.” Stories like this of rejection or guilt-making have been coming to light ever since a heated debate on the conscience clause has been stirred up in the world of healthcare. The conscience clause – a provision of the law allowing gynaecologists, … Continued
The Italian feminist movement is mobilising to oppose the government coalition on the subject of abortion. The first protests took place in Verona in October, after the city adopted a motion to finance anti-abortion organisations and make it a so-called pro-life city by preventing abortions. Then a demonstration took place in Rome to denounce repeated attacks on women’s rights. An extreme right party, the League, is in power, in coalition with the 5 Stars … Continued
This report summarises discussions and recommendations resulting from the global convening in 2017 on “conscientious objection” co-organised by the International Women’s Health Coalition and Mujer y Salud en Uruguay. The report will be launched today, 19 June 2018. Alongside Unconscionable, IWHC is releasing their policy brief on the refusal of care on grounds of conscience claims, with recommendations for national policymakers, international organisations, health professionals, and advocates. IWHC say: “We have deliberated deeply the issue … Continued
This article opens: “Ireland will hold a referendum on 25 May… But tough law is not always needed to actually restrict access to abortion: in some countries where abortion is legal, women face increasing problems to access it because non-objecting gynaecologists are simply not available.” Italy is one of the few countries that keeps a record of doctors who refuse to do abortions, which have been legally guaranteed since 1978. Over the past 20 years, … Continued
According to the Chilean Ministry of Health, between September 2017 and March 2018, there have been 111 legal abortions – 50 on grounds of risk to the woman’s life, 35 due to fatal fetal anomalies, and 26 following rape. There were also, of course, many more abortions which did not take place within the health care system. But this is a start!! On 27-28 April, Miles Chile trained 25 health professionals from 10 hospitals and … Continued
Although the federal government and most states have enacted laws protecting healthcare providers’ rights to refuse to provide or participate in procedures to which they have moral or religious objections, most such laws are deficient and many have been met with hostile judicial interpretations that have diminished their scope and strength.
This issue’s “Legal Briefing” column covers legal developments pertaining to conscience clauses and conscientious refusal. Not only has this topic been the subject of recent articles in this journal, but it has also been the subject of numerous public and professional discussions. Over the past several months, conscientious refusal disputes have had an unusually high profile not only in courthouses, but also in legislative and regulatory halls across the United States.
The right to conscientious objection is founded on human rights to act according to individuals’ religious and other conscience. Domestic and international human rights laws recognize such entitlements. Healthcare providers cannot be discriminated against, for instance in employment, on the basis of their beliefs.
The Constitutional Court of Colombia has issued a decision of international significance clarifying legal duties of providers, hospitals, and healthcare systems when conscientious objection is made to conducting lawful abortion. The decision establishes objecting providers’ duties to refer patients to non-objecting providers, and that hospitals, clinics, and other institutions have no rights of conscientious objection.