“Conscientious Objection” in Croatia

Conscience-based refusal in reproductive medicine

by Sanja Cesar
Published 2017

Abstract (shortened and edited) This paper explains the legal principle of conscience-based refusal in reproductive medicine; analyses legislation, politics, and practice regarding refusal of health care services provision on conscientious grounds in the Republic of Croatia; and indicates the problems in legislation and practice that enable malpractice of this right, thus violating the right of each patient to access lawful medical care in a timely manner.

The Republic of Croatia does not have a uniform and standardized procedure of refusing to provide relevant services for reasons of personal conscience, and there is no systematic data collection on professionals’ refusals to provide standard reproductive services, or its effect on the quality of health care. Lack of monitoring from the Ministry of Health and tolerance for institutionalized conscience-based refusal represent a public health problem that ultimately results in limited access as well as legal and medical insecurity for women. Women who request abortion are stigmatized in society, are faced with disapproval or humiliation in health care facilities, and can also be exposed to unnecessary waiting periods, additional costs, and discrimination.

Read full report: Conscience-based refusal in reproductive medicine


A Look at Conscientious Objection in Croatia

By Amir Hodžić
Apr 25, 2016

For a country sometimes deemed “the most Catholic country in Europe,” abortion is relatively available in Croatia. Terminations are accessible upon request within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, and under several conditions after that in this 86 percent Catholic nation. But over the last few years, a growing number of gynecologists have been invoking conscientious objection (CO) in their refusal to perform an abortion. This uptick in the practice of CO should be seen as a coordinated, collective action that aims to challenge liberal laws and policies on sexual and reproductive health—part of a larger conservative agenda in this country struggling to balance competing rights claims.

We can say that Croatia has failed to comprehensively and effectively regulate the practice of CO and thus allowed the denial of reproductive healthcare services to many women. In the last couple of years, we have witnessed the extensive promotion and co-option of the term CO by religiously affiliated groups on the political right aiming to deny women’s right to health and life—disguised as respect for clinicians’ “right” of conscience.

Read full article: Conscience Magazine