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Legal or Not, Italian Doctors Say No to Abortion


Nearly 70 percent of Italian gynecologists refuse to perform abortions. Taking refuge in the "conscientious objection" clause of the abortion law, doctors are increasingly denying abortions, making it difficult for women to find a provider.

Abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978; but there has been a recent surge in doctors refusing to conduct them. Between 2003 and 2007, the percent refusing rose from 58.7 percent to 69.2 percent. Around Naples the number is 83 percent, and in Sicily 84.2 percent.

Between 2006 and 2007, the number of legal abortions decreased 3 percent to 127,000, and illegal abortions also went down to around 15,000.

The Vatican, a strong political force in Italy, loudly opposes abortion. According to estimates, around 87 percent of Italians identify as Roman Catholics; but only 36 percent are practicing.

Does the morality clause significantly compromise the law legalizing abortion? What do you think is behind the recent surge in "conscientious" doctors? What sort of pressure does it put on the doctors that do provide the legal procedure?

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