Valentina Milluzzo † (2016) – Italy
Valentina Milluzo, 32, was miscarrying much-wanted twins at 19 weeks of pregnancy, but she died in the Cannizzaro Hospital in Catania Sicily after being denied an abortion, despite no hope for survival of her twins. She became septic and suffered hours of agony while sepsis destroyed her organs, but a doctor dismissed this as “labour pains” and refused to give her pain relief. Valentina’s parents were present and heard the doctor say he couldn’t do an abortion because he was a “conscientious objector”. Although one of the fetuses had died, greatly increasing the risk of sepsis for Valentina, the doctor refused to act because “the child’s heart is still beating.”
Although the hospital rejected the family’s claims that the doctor was a “conscientious objector”, the family is supported by their direct eyewitness testimony as well as the hospital’s own hastily-published preliminary report, which reveals negligence. Crucially, there is never any excuse for a pregnant woman to develop sepsis while in hospital, because it is a fast-acting, life-threatening condition that is almost inevitable once a woman starts miscarrying. The family’s lawsuit against the hospital and doctors is still outstanding (as of Sept 2018).
UPDATE, Nov 13, 2018: Seven doctors at the Cannizzaro Hospital in Sicily were indicted for Valentina’s death. The charges are multiple culpable manslaughter. Source. The accused are the head of the gynecology and obstetrics department, Paolo Scollo, the medical directors Silvana Campione, Giuseppe Maria Alberto Calvo, Alessandra Coffaro, Andrea Benedetta Di Stefano and Vincenzo Filippello, and the anesthesiologist Francesco Paolo Cavallaro. Source in Italian. Trial to start in July 2019. Unfortunately, the trial will focus on medical negligence and not conscientious objection, even though the latter was the primary cause of death because it led directly to numerous instances of medical negligence.
Fact Sheet on Valentina Milluzzo’s Death
November 15, 2016
Information in this fact sheet was compiled from publicly available sources like media reports, statements from the family, and the preliminary official report.
Read the fact sheet: [pdf]
When a Fetal Heartbeat Is More Important, Sometimes Women Die
Oct. 30, 2016, by Silvana Agathon and Lisa Canitano
Read the article: [pdf]
Preliminary Report from the Board of Health, and Critiques
October 24, 2016 (revised Nov 24), by Joyce Arthur
This document contains the preliminary report from the Board of Health in Catania regarding the death of Valentina Miluzzo on Oct 16, in both Italian and English. Following the report are three instructive criticisms that were posted in response to the report, also in Italian and English. Then a critique of the report by Joyce Arthur, showing that the timeline in the report demonstrates medical negligence.
Read the article: [pdf]
Police launch inquiry into death of woman ‘refused’ an abortion by Sicilian doctors
The Guardian, 23, Oct 2016 by Stephanie Kirchgaessner
Valentina’s father: “My daughter screamed in pain, the doctor said he couldn’t intervene.”
Oct. 20, 2016, Catania Italy: Video of interview with Valentina’s father
Source (translated from Italian): [valentinas-father-interview pdf]
Abortion laws under fire in Italy after death of Valentina Milluzzo
dw.com, 20.10.2016 by Elizabeth Schumacher
Italy abortion row as woman dies after hospital miscarriage