A growing number of Croatian hospitals are refusing to perform abortions, even though they are legal, because doctors refuse to conduct them for reasons of conscience.
Media in Croatia have reported that one of the main hospitals in Zagreb, the Hospital of “Sveti Duh”, ["Holy Spirit"] has stopped performing abortions even though terminations are within the law. Apparently, this clinic, which conducted 529 abortions as recently as 2013, is the fifth hospital in Croatia that has stopped performing abortions recently. Others are in the towns of Nasice, Vinkovci, Knin and Pozega, while in the biggest hospital in Split - the second city in Croatia - only one doctor now performs abortions. According to the research by the media, the problem is not the hospitals but the doctors. Reports say doctors are refusing to undertake the work for reasons of conscience. Some 66 per cent of doctors in Zagreb refuse this work, apparently. In Split, 95 per cent of medics have refused to take part in abortions for the same reasons of conscience. Abortion in Croatia is regulated on the basis of a law from 1978, which says abortions can be performed up until the 10th week of pregnancy. However, doctors have a discretionary right not to perform abortions if they maintain that life starts at the moment of conception. As a result, no sanctions may be taken against hospitals or doctors who decline to provide abortion services.