Over the past two decades, at least 30 countries – including, most recently, Ireland, Chile and Argentina – have taken steps to improve access to abortion through legislative changes.
Many medics have sought to exempt themselves from these new laws, however. As a result, doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and even entire hospitals around the world have denied women access to abortion care in countries where the procedure is legal.
The report, Unconscionable: When Providers Deny Abortion Care, published by the International Women’s Health Coalition, is based on consultation with 45 experts in 22 countries, from Italy and Ghana to South Africa and Uruguay. It found that more than 70 jurisdictions have provisions allowing medics to refuse care based on their personal beliefs, a phenomenon known as “conscientious objection”.