Nearly 70 percent of Italian gynecologists are now refusing to perform abortions on moral grounds, Agence France Presse reports.
A report by Italy’s ministry of health on Tuesday reported that between 2003 and 2007 the number of gynecologists invoking a conscientious objection clause in their refusal to perform an abortion rose from 58.7 percent to 69.2 percent. The percentage of anesthesiologists who refused to help in an abortion rose from 45.7 percent to 50.4 percent.
According to the report, the increase is most pronounced in the south of the country. In Campania, the region around Naples, the percentage of gynecologists refusing to perform abortions reached 83 percent, and in Sicily 84.2 percent refused.
Milan gynecologist and legalized abortion advocate Silvio Viale told ANSA news agency that “abortion law is in danger,” saying abortion procedures were “more and more resembling an obstacle course.” Italy legalized most abortions in 1978.
The number of abortions in Italy has dropped slightly, from 131,018 in 2006 to 127,038 in 2007, a decrease of three percent. According to the health ministry report, illegal abortions are also declining, presently numbering about 15,000 per year.
Legalized abortion became an issue in the recent Italian elections, due to action by the Catholic Church and the foundation of a pro-life party by journalist Giulio Ferrara, though the new party received only 0.37 percent of the vote.