Croatia: Doctors that refuse to do abortions should look for a job in church-funded hospitals
Three respected physicians, MD Dubravko Lepusic, MD Jasenka Grujic-Koracin and MD Gorjana Gjuric, whose Initiative for regulation of conscientious objection raised a public debate, explained their position on demanding that government-funded hospitals shouldn't employ doctors who refuse do to various medical procedures on the grounds of religious beliefs.
Hospital, as a public institution that is funded by public money, has to secure the right of a woman to have an abortion. That is, and there should be no compromise on that certain issue. There are legal frames that guarantee that right. There are articles, in particular laws that also guarantee a right for a physician to practice conscientious objection, but that does not mean they are allowed not to put patients' needs first.
"It doesn't function in Croatia. Every doctor with conscientious objection, like those who work in the "Holy Spirit" hospital, which are massively refusing to do abortions, should work in a confessional hospital that should be funded by the Church. That's why we are demanding that confessional hospitals get established and that the institutional right for conscientious objection in public hospitals gets shut down, including pharmacy and transfusion medicine. It's a physician's obligation to provide services based on science, and not the religious dogma." - That's how the MD Jasenka Grujic-Koracin announces the initiative for the establishment of confessional hospitals, as just one of the series of projects the "Initiative of doctors for the regulation of conscientious objection in medicine" will pull off. The Initiative was presented to the public during the roundtable they've organized together with Center for education, counseling and research from Zagreb.
Violations of the rights of the patients
"If the conscientious objection would be applied consistently, the system would get broken, in every segment of human rights, not just the right to terminate a pregnancy. How far is it allowed to practice the conscientious objection? If we bring it to the level of absurd, it would allow for the Jehovah's Witnesses to demand the abolishment of the Institute for Transfusion, the lawyers could demand to be exempt from defending the criminals they don't like, and the employees of the hospitals could just boycott everything that has any relation with a woman who had an abortion - the cleaning staff shouldn't wash the sheets that woman used, and the administrative clerks should deny writing her discharge letter." - that's how MD Jasenka Grujic-Koracin explains the motives that are behind the need for the doctors to merge into the Initiative.
MD Lepusic told a story from his practice: because her doctor of the primary health care refused to prescribe her contraception, a seventeen-year-old girl came to have abortion two times, in a timespan of a couple of months. She had to go to the hospitals with ther parents. Except from extreme dark examples, it's important to highlight a dark secret on missusement of the conscientious objection, that gets mentioned a lot on gatherings of doctors and in the culoars - that there are doctors that practice their right not the perform an abortion during the working hours, but still perform terminations of pregnancies in private clinics.
The doctors that are gathered in the Initiative demand from the Government and from the Ministry of Health that the conscientious objection regulates more precisely. From defining what are the cases of negative, as well as a positive conscientious objection, to determine a more clear procedure, to regulate the accreditation of institution that has a greater number of people who practice their CO right and thus don't do all of the tasks that are listed under their affair. They wish to have a very clear and written procedure of recognition of the individual right to practice CO, similar as it exists in the military service. Furthermore, they wish to abolish the right some people and to pray in front of the hospitals any by that interfere with regular work of the hospitals, and to form some "buffer" zones which wouldn't allow those people to come near the hospitals.
The Conscientious Objection Registry
The doctors from the Initiative demand the forming of a registry for the institutions and the Ministry of health, as well as trough the different professions, and to deter the measures that would compensate the loss made because of the conscientious objection. That would mean that, per instance, if a person refuses to do something because of his/hers CO, that would be deducted from that person's paycheck, which would lower unnecessary cost and leave more money for the "fund" that would be used to pay external associates, as MD Lepusic explains.
The right to practice a conscientious objection was brought to Croatian law in 2003. The drama surrounding the abortion rights has just brought them to the light, but it's not related exclusively to abortion, but to the whole reproductive and palliative medicine, as well as transfusiology and prevention. The last one is related to the HPV vaccine; Lepusic says: "While we're holding discussions on vaccines and are not one of the 58 countries in the world that have it in their national program, in Croatia around hundred women per year die from cervical cancer. The world moves forward - there has been registered another nine-valent vaccine in America. It covers nine types of viruses."