Abortion, in over 20 Italian hospitals 100% of gynecologists make conscientious objection

Abortion, in over 20 Italian hospitals 100% of gynecologists make conscientious objection


The updated numbers of the "Never data" project, promoted by the Luca Coscioni Association to shed light on the condition in Italy of access to the right to terminate pregnancy. Open data and an app to help guarantee it

(Photo credit should read JIM WATSON / AFP / Getty Images) A ​​few days ago the news came that in at least fifteen Italian hospitals 100% of gynecologists are conscientious objector. The number emerged from the Mai data survey that the Luca Coscioni Association is carrying out to verify the effective application of law 194/78 (the one that guarantees the right to abortion in Italy). “And I can already tell you that in the meantime these hospitals have risen to more than 20”, anticipates Chiara Lalli, professor of History of Medicine and co-author of the research together with Sonia Montegiove, IT and journalist. The results of the survey, not yet definitive, were anticipated during the 18th National Congress of the association. And they show a more truthful picture of reality than the one that emerges from the report that the Ministry of Health periodically presents to Parliament.

The “never given” numbers on abortion in Italy

L 'Italy that emerges from Mai data is a country in which, 43 years after the approval of the law on termination of pregnancy, in more than 20 hospitals there are only objecting gynecologists (distributed among Lombardy, with 4 centers, Molise, Piedmont, Veneto, Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Basilicata, Campania and Puglia) and in at least five others, all obstetric staff or anesthetists are.

In other 20 centers, more than 80% of doctors are objecting, and in another 13 more than 80% of medical and non-medical personnel are objecting. “A first major anomaly already emerges here - underlines Chiara Lalli -. Why can anesthesiologists and non-medical personnel object, if Article 9 of the law provides this possibility only for those who carry out activities 'specifically and necessarily aimed at causing the termination of pregnancy' and not for those prior or consequent? And when they are all objectors, what do you do? Are they called external figures? Or does the service stop even in those cases? ". Yet law 194 clearly states that the objection must not be structural and that the service must be guaranteed everywhere.

Open data for the exercise of a right

The limit of the report of the Ministry of Health is that the data it contains are closed, aggregated by region and very old. We cannot therefore have the percentages of objectors in every single ASL or hospital company. Translated: without open data, disaggregated and constantly updated, a woman who wants to have an abortion cannot know for sure whether, by contacting hospital X, her right will be guaranteed or not. This "useless" way of collecting data is the reason why the Italy that emerges from the Mai data survey is different from that outlined by the ministry. “The report does not allow us to understand in which territories it is impossible to have an abortion - explains Lalli -. For example, he points out that the region with the most objectors is Sicily (85.8%), but we know that the most worrying region is Molise, with only one gynecologist doing the IVG, now supported by a part-time colleague. And a similar profile is emerging in Abruzzo ”. The document also does not deal with training. “What happens when there are objecting doctors at the head of the schools? - continues Lalli -. It is a question, qualitative rather than quantitative, which we will investigate in the future, also because it also concerns the protection of those who have spontaneous abortions ”.

The numbers identified by the Luca Coscioni Association, updated as of September 30, could be much higher, because so far only 60% of Italian hospitals have participated in the survey. But how is the research going? “Since August with Sonia Montegiove we have been sending, by certified mail, a request for generalized civic access to every single ASL surveyed by the Ministry - says Lalli -. We ask for information that they should already have: the number of objectors divided by gynecologists, anesthetists and non-medical personnel, and the total number of these figures. They have 30 days to respond and, after that deadline, we send a reminder. We are surprised by the low adhesion found and above all some answers, such as those who appealed to the covid or the right to privacy. But we only ask for numbers, not for names and surnames ”. Let me be clear: hospitals are required to answer: since 2016, also in Italy, the right of civic access to documents is law.

An app to know and be able to choose

But the Never Data initiative does not stop at gathering information. "The next step will be to focus on three regions, one for the North, one for the Center, Lazio, and one for the South, and from there to expand the research to universities, the waiting time, the pharmacological IVG - explains Lalli -. We also want to contextualize this information in relation to the territory: a hospital with 100% of objectors has a different impact in Rome or in a provincial town, a situation in which the woman may be forced to go to another municipality. And then we would also like to open to citizens the possibility of contributing (the project email is maidati@associazionelucacoscioni.it, ed), perhaps by asking their gynecologists if they are objectors, or by reporting cases in which the morning-after pill is refused. We need to put together as much information as possible, because only information frees us from stigma ".

The goal is to convey all this information in an app that geolocates hospitals and their services, so that we can be a concrete help for women who want to do the IVG. “And maybe even the ministry will collaborate with, with data updated in real time”, hopes Lalli. In the awareness that the data are not just numbers, but the concrete possibility of eliminating, at least reducing, difficulties that are still too present. "There is still a lot of talk about the suffering behind this choice, in a way that is also rhetorical and blaming - concludes Lalli -. But how hypocritical is a system that then, concretely, makes life impossible for those who just want to exercise their own right? ”.

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