Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, January 23, 2016

On Paper, Italy Allows Abortions, But Few Doctors Will Perform Them

From New York Times:

After Benedetta, 35, found out 11 weeks into her pregnancy that the baby she wanted “with all myself” had extremely serious genetic problems, she made a painful decision, and asked her longtime gynecologist for an abortion.

Her doctor’s refusal — she said she was a conscientious objector to Italy’s law that makes abortion legal up to 90 days — set off a desperate scramble to find a doctor who would help her.

At one hospital, doctors advised her to get a psychiatrist’s note saying she had threatened to kill herself, so that she could extend the legal time limit. At another, a doctor suggested that she just wait.

‘The fetus is incompatible with life; you will very likely lose it anyway past the 20th week’ — that’s what this doctor told me,” Benedetta said, still angry and incredulous. She asked that her last name not be used to protect her privacy. “To expect a woman to see her belly growing, to raise a doomed life, is inhumane.”

“I felt like a container, not a human being,” she added.

After a fight that feminists in Italy still consider a signal achievement, abortion within 90 days of pregnancy — and later for women in mental or physical danger, or in cases of serious fetal pathologies — has been legal in this country for over three decades.

But that does not mean that finding a doctor to perform one is easy. Seventy percent of gynecologists — up to 83 percent in some conservative southern regions — are conscientious objectors to the law, and do not perform abortions for religious or personal reasons in a country that remains, culturally at least, overwhelmingly Catholic.

Read more here.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2016/01/on-paper-italy-allows-abortions-but-few-doctors-will-perform-them.html

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