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A woman’s request for abortion cannot be treated as a lottery

In better news, however – on March 7 the Council of Europe’s Committee of Social Rights ruled that conscientious objection cannot stand in the way of women receiving the reproductive healthcare services guaranteed by Italian law.

The milestone decision on conscientious objection and abortion delivered by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Social Rights is welcomed by the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN). IPPF EN lodged a collective complaint[1] against Italy which stated that the weak regulation of health personnel’s conscientious objection violates the right to health protection. IPPF EN is pleased to announce that the claim has been successful – and in time for Saturday 8th March, which is International Women’s Day.

The Committee’s decision supports the position held by IPPF EN, LAIGA and the Italian lawyers Marilisa D’ Amico and Benedetta Liberali. They clearly state that conscientious objection cannot stand in the way of women receiving the reproductive healthcare services guaranteed by Italian law. The Italian State is obliged to make sure women get access to abortion services – as and when required. “A woman’s request to abortion cannot be treated as a lottery, dependant on the luck of the patient, her wealth or where she lives,” saysVicky Claeys, the Regional Director of IPPF EN.

The Committee confirms that women face numerous challenges regarding abortion services in Italy. For example, waiting times are excessive and sometimes conscientiously objecting health personnel refuse to provide the necessary care before or after abortion. Furthermore, in some areas, there is an imbalance between the need for pregnancy termination and the number of non-objecting competent health personnel available. This means, even though the Italian law should guarantee access to reproductive health care for everyone, women cannot access abortion in all parts of Italy. There are huge difficulties, particularly in the south of Italy and Lombardy.

Therefore IPPF EN welcomes the Committee denouncing the ‘territorial and economic discrimination’ that women face when searching for available abortion services providers.

Now for Italy to do something about it.

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