Conscientious objection to abortion: Right or exception?
Conscientious objection in healthcare and women’s reproductive rights have a long trajectory of difficult coexistence in democratic societies. States duty to protect the right to the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion of healthcare professionals frequently collides with the obligation to guarantee women’s fundamental rights to health, the free development of their personality, and their physical and psychological integrity. Given the fact that abortion is a service legally recognized in most of the European countries, conscientious objection should be an exception, as it has been in other controversial issues-i.e., compulsory military service-, to the extent that it implies overriding rights legally established. However, is this so? Women’s experiences reflected in some empirical studies show that frequently not, especially in some countries, like Italy or Spain. Considering the extent to which conscientious objection has been claimed-and strongly guaranteed by law-in relation to abortion, it is worthy to analyze the fundaments for this wide protection, as well as its effects. Having into account the legal framework of conscientious objection to abortion in Europe, this work aims to show some causes, consequences and difficulties of its current regulation, as a previous step to provide effective guidelines to protect women’s interests and rights.
Rosana Triviño is an Associate Researcher at the Institute of Philosophy of the National Research Council (CSIC) in Madrid, Spain, and President of LI²FE (www.liife.org). She received her PhD from the University of Salamanca with a thesis on conscientious objection in healthcare. Her research areas are related to Moral Philosophy and Applied Ethics. More specifically, she is interested on moral conscience and its role in decision-making; conscientious objection; women’s sexual and reproductive rights; and the access to healthcare for migrant people. Currently, she is developing the project “ProtoAccess: A comparative study on the access protocols to the termination of pregnancy in the European Union” (http://www.fundaciogrifols.org/es/web/fundacio/-/estudio-comparativo-de-los-protocolos-de-acceso-a-la-interrupcion-de-la-gestacion-en-la-union-europea-protoaccess-). She is also member of 3 research projects: “Causal responsibility by omission: An ethical and legal elucidation of the problems of undue inaction” (http://kontuz.weebly.com/); “The discourse of bio-rights. Philosophical and legal foundations, features and implementation” and “Philosophy of Birth: Rethinking the Origin from the Medical Humanities” (https://philbirth.wordpress.com/; https://filnac.wordpress.com/), all of them funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.