Know any OB/GYNs who want to move to Italy?

Abortion is legal there, but only 30 percent of doctors will do it.

By Lynn Harris
Published April 23, 2008 5:15AM (UTC)
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Via Here we are complaining about OB/GYNs agitating for the right to refuse to perform abortions. Over in Italy, according to a recent report by the country's Ministry of Health, 70 percent of Italian gynecologists -- even more in certain regions -- now refuse to perform abortions "on moral grounds," and that number is increasing. Half of anesthesiologists also refuse to participate.

Abortion, it should be noted, has been legal in Italy (up to 24 weeks) since 1978, but a "conscientious objection" clause added by the Vatican has enabled doctors to opt out.


The number of abortions has dropped slightly of late; illegal abortions -- which I'm not sure how they count -- are also, interestingly, on the decline.

Berlusconi crony Giuliano Ferrara brought attacks on abortion to the forefront of recent legislative elections by creating an antiabortion party, though, oh well, he received less than 1 percent of the vote. Then there was the police raid on an abortion clinic in Naples, which prompted a huge demonstration in Rome.

And thus -- though perhaps it's no surprise in the home of the Vatican -- we are reminded of the often vast gulf between reproductive rights on paper and reproductive rights in practice. "Abortion law is in danger," said Milan gynecologist and pro-choice advocate Silvio Viale (who we hope is, among other things, working to recruit liberal med students), with access to the procedure "more and more resembling an obstacle course."

Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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