During its 3rd plenary session in Strasbourg that was held from 21-24 June 2010, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Social Affairs and Health adopted the report without any additional amendments. This is the first and important vote before the report will go to the Plenary in October to be adopted by all 47 Council of Europe Members States Parliamentarians.
The report and the draft Resolution will be the first documents on the level of the Council of Europe to address and regulate the practice of conscientious objection-the right of health services providers, including doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to refuse to provide certain health services based on religious, moral or philosophical grounds. The main purposeof the report is to ensure that the practice of conscientious objection which often arises in provision of reproductive health services does not prevent women from accessing lawful medical care in a timely manner. In the report the Rapporteur Hon. Christine McCafferty (Socialist, UK) expresses her concern about the increasing and largely unregulated occurrence of the practice of conscientious objection, especially in the field of reproductive health. If adopted, the Resolution will call on Member States to develop comprehensive and clear regulations that define and regulate conscientious objection with regard to health and medical services including reproductive health as well as to provide oversight and monitoring.