Catholic World News News Feature
EU panel urges policy mandating doctors' involvement in abortion December 23, 2005
A European Union (EU) advisory panel has issued a policy statement arguing that physicians should not be allowed to avoid performing abortions, the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-Fam) reports.
The EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights released a 40-page opinion on the implications of a proposed treaty between Slovakia and the Holy See. Part of that treaty would ensure that Catholic hospitals and Catholic medical personnel in Slovakia would not be required to perform abortions, fertilizations, embryo experiments, sterilizations, and other procedures that would be incompatible with Catholic principles. The Network concluded that while such "conscience clauses" are not absolute, and must be balanced by the rights of people seeking treatment.
The Network stated that the rights of medical personnel to follow their own consciences "should be regulated in order to ensure that, in circumstances where abortion is legal, no woman shall be deprived from having effective access to the medical service of abortion."
The Network said that when a medical practitioner or institution refuses to perform a procedure on grounds of conscience, it should ensure that the individual seeking that procedure has adequate alternatives. Doctors who refuse to perform abortions, the Network said, should be required to refer women to other doctors who are willing to perform the procedure.
The Network report-- which is an advisory opinion rather than a binding policy-- is analyzed in greater detail on the C-Fam web site.