Accepted paper:

Abortion stigma, foetal 'rights' and conscientious objection in Italy: a qualitative study on obstetricians-gynaecologists' experiences and attitudes to abortion in Rome and Milan

Authors:

Silvia De Zordo (University of Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses abortion, its stigmatization and conscientious objection based on research carried out in 2011 in four public maternity hospitals in Rome and Milan with obstetricians-gynaecologists and other health professionals.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses abortion, its stigmatization and conscientious objection based on a research carried out in 2011 in four public maternity hospitals in Rome and Milan with obstetricians-gynaecologists and other health professionals. The first part of the paper summarizes and discusses the public debate on abortion rights and, more largely, reproductive rights in Italy since the 70s, when abortion was legalized under broad circumstances in the 1st trimester and in the 2nd trimester in case of serious life or health risks for the woman. It shows how new actors and political rationalities are emerging from the abortion debate, since the increase in conscientious objection to abortion care has become its main focus in recent years. The second part shows how an important political shift occurred over the last decade from the partial recognition of women as moral and political autonomous subjects to the recognition of the embryo/foetus as a juridical subject whose rights must be defended. Can the increase in conscientious objection be considered as a result of this shift or should other phenomena (e.g. the impact of antenatal screening techniques and abortion stigma) be also examined to understand this process? In the third part I answer this question by exploring how Italian obstetricians deal with the embryo/foetus and with the medical, legal and moral conflicts raised by termination and by physicians' and other health professionals' refusal to provide abortion care.

panel P22
Health and wellbeing in post-war Europe: the contentious issue of abortion