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Accepted Paper:

"Good Doctors do not object?": abortion, stigma and conscientious objection to abortion care in Italy, in obstetricians-gynaecolosists' perspectives   
Silvia De Zordo (University of Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

In this presentation I discuss how abortion stigma and conscientious objection to abortion care impact on obstetricians-gynaecologists’ experiences and attitudes towards abortion, based on a qualitative study carried out in 2011 in four public maternity hospitals in Italy (Rome and Milan).

Paper long abstract:

In this presentation I discuss the results of a qualitative research on health professionals' experiences and attitudes towards abortion and conscientious objection, carried out in 2011 in Rome and Milan (Italy). I examine particularly obstetricians-gynaecologists' experiences and attitudes to abortion and explore how they deal with the medical, legal and moral conflicts raised by doctors' and other health professionals' refusal to perform terminations and to assist women undergoing these procedures. The first part of the presentation discusses the public debate on reproductive rights since the 70s, when abortion was legalized in Italy. It argues that an important political shift occurred over the last decade from the partial recognition of women as moral/political autonomous subjects to the recognition of the embryo/foetus as a "bio-political" subject to be protected at the cost of women's health and rights. The increase in conscientious objection rates during the 2000s may be considered a consequence of this shift. However, how has this shift occurred and why? Has it actually influenced medical training and practice and how? In the second part of the presentation I answer these questions, building on the main results of a study that I carried in 2011 in four public maternity hospitals in Rome and Milan. My study shows that conscientious objection and abortion stigma are strictly related to each other, and that the increasing medicalization of contraception and pregnancy (via prenatal screening techniques) has increased abortion stigma and strongly influences physicians' attitudes towards abortion and their choices concerning abortion provision.

Panel P019
Emerging contestations of abortion rights: new hierarchies, political strategies, and discourses at the intersection of rights, health and law
  Session 1