Strategy to Engage ‘abortion Physicians’ at Rome hospital sparks outcry

On Thursday the president of Rome’s order of doctors, Giuseppe Lavra, requested Lazio’s regional governor to repeal the “unfair and discriminatory” call for 2 pro-abortion gynecologists.

The governor, Nicola Zingaretti, had planned for the 2 doctors to be hired at Rome’s San Camillo hospital – one of the greatest in the capital – in which they would be tasked particularly with executing abortions.  

Zingaretti wrote in his     he’d suggested the measure to be able to be sure the hospital had sufficient doctors to ensure the procedure, since in Italy doctors may refuse to carry out abortions on moral grounds.

“The actual risk is … the right to abortion is denied to girls on a daily basis,” explained Zingaretti, including that “revolutionary” steps were needed to make sure the Law 194, which modulates abortion from Italy, is actually preserved.

He cited official statistics which put the percentage of conscienious objectors at 78% in Lazio, marginally above the national average of 70 percent.

However, the move was met with criticism, especially from Italy’s Bishop’s Convention, the CEI, which stated conscientious objection has been a “right that has to be maintained”.

The suggested hiring has been welcomed by the president of Laiga, a company of pro-choice Italian gynecologists who advised  Ansa that fewer than 59 percent of hospitals in Italy offer detailed abortion services as required by legislation, and that this number is always decreasing.  

“There are more than just a few hospitals in which abortions are only provided by one physician,” she explained. “This usually means that all it requires is for the non-objecting physician to be on holiday or sick leave or to retire and also the choice disappears.”

The Health Ministry confirmed the right to apology has been honored in Italy and the legislation “didn’t program” for its hiring of certain abortion doctors. But it’s legal to hire doctors to specialise in one particular procedure.

Abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978, but a lot of girls are forced to have their pregnancies terminated secretly because of the rising number of doctors who refuse to execute the operation for spiritual reasons.

Women in Italy are eligible to complete a pregnancy over the first few months. After 90 days, abortions are only allowed when the foetus is badly harmed or so the mother’s life is at risk.

And girls who have illegal abortions face penalties of between $5,000 and $10,000, that have been introduced last year.  

The new fines replace a ‘symbolic’ fine of 51, which had been given to women who got the illegal abortion, and has been aimed at encouraging them to denounce doctors who conducted it in addition to invite them to use the state health care system if any complications arose.

“These penalties are detrimental for women,” Dr. Silvanna Agatone, president of the Free Italian Association of Gynaecologists, Laiga, told The Neighborhood at the time.  

“Now if girls have complications it’s unlikely they’ll go to a general hospital for therapy, since if the physician who treats them reports their illegal abortion they’ll be heavily sanctioned,” Agatone added.

“It is not unusual for girls to experience life-threatening septicemia following an abortion. They should be made to feel comfortable about undergoing therapy, without the fear of reprisal.”

Getting an abortion 'too hard' even though it's legal in Italy

Pro-choice activists present in Rome at 2014. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Pro-choice demonstrators to a march at Rome. Document photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

An contentious move by a Rome hospital to hire two expert abortion doctors – since the majority of Italian doctors refuse to execute the procedure – has generated an outcry.