Abortion, in Italy abortions decrease. But 2 out of 3 gynecologists are objectors

The number of abortions in Italy is declining, but 64 percent of gynecologists are conscientious objectors. The data come from the Report to Parliament on the application of Law 194/78 on voluntary termination of pregnancy (Ivg).

The number of voluntary abortions

The Report, which refers to the year 2020, collects data from the monitoring system which shows that in the course of the year under study a total of 66,413 IVGs have been registered, 9.3% less than in 2019.

The abortion rate is 5.4 per thousand women aged 15 to 49, a figure among the lowest internationally and 6.7% more than in 2019.

Abortions have declined throughout Italy and particularly in the south and the islands. The regions where the greatest decrease in the absolute number of voluntary abortions has been observed are Basilicata, Sicily, Puglia, Lombardy, Sardinia and, the only one in the north, the Aosta Valley.

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The reasons for the steady decline of Ivg

Among the reasons for the steady decline in recent years, the Ministerial Report also partially raises the hypothesis “the increase in sales of emergency contraceptives as a result of the three decisions of Aifa that eliminated the obligation to prescribe prescriptions of Ulipristal Acetate, known as the ‘5 Day After Pill’. “and for Levonorgestrel, known as the ‘morning-after pill’ for older women. The third determines that Aifa has removed the prescription requirement for Ulipristal acetate for minors as well.”

The numbers of the objectors

At the same time, the report denounces the situation of medical and non-medical staff who refuse to perform abortion interventions as a conscientious objector. Also in this case the percentage has dropped, but slightly and the figures are still high: the objection affects 2 out of 3 gynecologists and almost 1 out of 2 anesthetists, with peaks exceeding 80% in some regions.

According to the report, in 2020, the percentage of opposition gynecologists across the country dropped to 64.6% from 67% the previous year. There are, however, major regional differences.

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In the autonomous province of Bolzano, 84.5% of gynecologists exercise the right to object, 83.8% in Abruzzo, 82.8% in Molise, 81.6% in Sicily and Basilicata in 81 , 4%. The lowest rates of objection among gynecologists are in the Aosta Valley (25%), the Autonomous Province of Trento (35.9%) and Emilia-Romagna (45%).

The objection rate among anesthetists is lower but in 2020 it is 44.6%, a slight increase compared to 43.5% in 2019. Also in this case there are large regional differences: ranging from 20% of the Aosta Valley up to 75.9% of Calabria. .

Among non-medical staff, the objection stands at 36.2% (it was 37.6% in 2019) with a range ranging from 13.3% in the Aosta Valley to 90% in Molise.

Hope: “The right to abortion must be guaranteed by the Regions”

“The number of conscientious objectors remains high for all categories of health professionals, in particular for gynecologists. The organization of abortion services must be such that there are a sufficient number of professional figures to ensure women have access to voluntary termination of pregnancy, as indicated in Article 9 of Law No. 194/78, which should be guaranteed by the Regions, in order to protect the free exercise of women’s sexual and reproductive rights and access to HIV services and minimize the impact of conscientious objection in the exercise of this right, “the Minister of Health wrote in the conclusions of the Report Roberto Speranza.

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