Pordenone victim (2010) – Italy

Vita Donna, April 2013

Objecting physician sentenced to one year in prison for denying care

In the province of Pordenone, a woman became very ill after a voluntary surgical abortion. A midwife on duty feared hemorrhage and called for the intervention of the gynecologist on duty. But the doctor appealed to conscientious objection and refused to help, even after repeated orders given by telephone from the primary physician, who finally had to go to the hospital to take urgent action to save the patient.

The objecting gynecologist was denounced and sentenced by the Sixth Criminal Section of the Court of Cassation to a year in prison, for failure to treat the patient and leaving her at risk of bleeding. The Supreme Court held that conscientious objection relates only to the actual performance of an abortion, not for care before or after. The gynecologist lost her licence and can no longer practice medicine.

April 2013 sources in Italian:
Law 194, the Supreme Court: “Objecting doctor cannot refuse care after abortion” (Legge 194, Cassazione: “Medico obiettore non può rifiutare cure dopo aborto”)

Abortion: One year in prison for objecting physician who denied care (Aborto, un anno di carcere al medico obiettore che ha negato le cure)