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Reportage. Italy allows abortions, but it also allows doctors to conscientiously object. The result puts women’s rights secondary.

Woman trying to have legal abortion rejected by 22 hospitals

“I wonder what’s the sense of making a law that gives women the right of choice and then not creating the conditions for them to do so.”

That was the bitter comment of a 41-year-old mother of two, who racked up 22 “unavailables” as she sought an abortion in hospitals across northern Italy. She traveled through three provinces, Veneto, Friuli and Trentino. Finally, only thanks to the intervention of the Italian General Confederation of Labor (CGIL), one of Italy’s largest trade unions, she managed to exercise her right under law 194 at the hospital in Padua, which at first turned her away.

In December the woman discovered she was pregnant and reached the difficult decision not to carry her third pregnancy. But she quickly discovered how low the glass ceiling is in the northeastern health services sector. Gynecologists objected, hospitals lacked beds, people were gone for the holidays.

The woman returned to the labor ward in Padua, finally getting a positive response from the private hospital that aspires to ensure “excellence” but in fact, especially in gynecology-obstetrics, is paralyzed by a “feud” between the university and the hospital.

In Veneto, 80 percent of gynecologists say they are conscientious objectors to the abortion law. Padua, together with Belluno, are the provinces with the most difficulties for women.

“While it is true that the law allows conscientious objection, it is equally true that every public structure must be put in a position to ensure the performance of what the law allows — even at the cost of taking no conscientious objector doctors in Veneto,” GCIL said. “This in the light of the recent statements by Governor Luca Zaia about the recruitment of non-objector personnel at the reproduction assistance center at Trecenta hospital.”

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