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Doc. 12347

20 July 2010

Women’s access to lawful medical care: the problem of

unregulated use of conscientious objection


Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee

Rapporteur: Ms Christine McCAFFERTY, United Kingdom, Socialist Group


The practice of conscientious objection arises in the field of health care when healthcare providers refuse to

provide certain health services based on religious, moral or philosophical objections. While recognising the

right of an individual to conscientiously object to performing a certain medical procedure, the Social, Health

and Family Affairs Committee is deeply concerned about the increasing and largely unregulated occurrence

of this practice, especially in the field of reproductive health care, in many Council of Europe member states.

There is a need to balance the right of conscientious objection of an individual not to perform a certain

medical procedure with the responsibility of the profession and the right of each patient to access lawful

medical care in a timely manner.

The Parliamentary Assembly should thus invite member states to develop comprehensive and clear

regulations that define and regulate conscientious objection with regard to health and medical services,

including reproductive health services, as well as to provide oversight and monitoring, including an effective

complaint mechanism, of the practice of conscientious objection.

The Assembly should also recommend that the Committee of Ministers instruct the competent Steering

Committees and/or other competent Council of Europe bodies to assist member states in the development of

such regulations and the setting up of such oversight and monitoring mechanisms.


On 18 september 2010, Swiss fundamentalist anti-abortion groups (all of them rather small) will hold a manifestation with an oecumenical mass (evangelical and catholic) on the streets of Zürich, “March for Life”, similar to the march which will be hold in Berlin, Germany, on the same date.

No church was willing to host them for the mass. That why they will celebrate it on a public square.

The sponsors are:

Arbeitsgruppe Jugend & Familie (youth and family, grouping traditional families with 3 or more children) Christen für die Wahrheit christians for truth EDU Schweiz evangelical political party (very small) Familienlobby Schweiz very conservative lobbying group Human Life International Ja zum Leben yes to life, this is the only group of any numerical importance. Pro Life an organisation organizing collective health insurance for its members (who have to declare that they will never have an abortion) Zeitschriften ‘ethos’ und ‘factum’ conservative christian journals Zukunft CH, fundamentalist political pressure group (no significance)

A Swiss parliamentarian of the right-wing “Swiss peoples party” (Schweizerische Volkspartei, ) will be the main speaker. This party, although being conservative and cherishing the traditional family model, is very much divided on the abortion question.

Up to now they have only received 872 signatures to their manifesto.

Bioethics Committee of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference

The Committee has a consultative status with the Bishops’ conference on questions of reproduction, genetic engeneering, stem cell research etc.

Among the 11 members there are at least 3 leading members of Human Life International (Swiss section). One of them is presiding the Committee.

Only 1 female member.

The impending trial of a young Queensland woman for allegedly illegally aborting her pregnancy has no precedent in Australia.

The finding by prominent obstetrician and abortion law reform campaigner Caroline de Costa reinforces how intensely the prosecution of Tegan Leach and her partner, Sergie Brennan, both of Cairns, will be watched.

The case is due to return to the District Court next month, with Ms Leach charged with attempting to procure an abortion under a 111-year-old provision of the Queensland criminal code, carrying a maximum of seven years’ jail. Mr Brennan is charged with supplying drugs to procure an abortion.

Both have been committed to stand trial.

“Over the past five years, I have been researching the history of abortion in Australia, particularly in Queensland, through medical, legal and police records,” Professor de Costa writes in a new book, Never, Ever, Again.

“My research has not produced a single previous case of a woman being charged with procuring her own abortion since the 1899 (criminal) code was first promulgated (in Queensland).

“What’s more, I have found no evidence that any woman anywhere in Australia has ever been so charged.” Ms Leach is alleged to have terminated her pregnancy in December 2008 with RU486, the abortion drug that could not be brought into the country legally until 2006.

Professor de Costa played an important role in having the ban overturned by federal parliament, and ran the first service using RU486 in Cairns. However, she was not aware of, nor involved in, the couple’s alleged use of an illegally imported batch of the drug.


By Jodi Jacobson, Editor-in-Chief, RH Reality Check

At the UN, only men will get to decide MDG priorities for women’s and children’s health. Including Bill Gates who is anti-abortion.

Consider this:

Men don’t get pregnant.

Completely preventable complications of pregnancy, labor, unsafe abortion and AIDS-related illnesses remain the leading causes of death and disability among women in countries throughout the world due to lack of political will, lack of funding, and the politicization of sexual and reproductive health by fundamentalist religious and political actors.

Women now make up the majority of those infected with HIV worldwide and over two-thirds of those infected in sub-Saharan Africa.

Women and girls continue to face profound discrimination in access to education, employment, and political power in virtually every country (yes, including the United States).  Women continue to experience high rates of sexual violence and coercion, high rates of child marriage, and low rates of access to basic reproductive and sexual health care, including safe abortion.

The health and well-being of newborns, infants, and children rests primarily on women.  In communities riven by poverty, violence and discrimination, the death of a mother too often results in the neglect, deteriorating health, abuse, or death of her child(ren).

Consider also that virtually all of these issues remained invisible–or just plain unimportant–to the largely male power structures in every country for the past several decades, until the global women’s movement gained traction in their fight to put them on the global agenda.

Given these realities, it would seem that appointments to a recently convened United Nations High-level Advocacy Group focused on pushing for progress on the Millennium Development Goals would take pains to put high-level women in charge–at least in equal numbers to their male counterparts–of advocating for maternal health, child health, and HIV and AIDS, as well as those “other things” like economic development, in which women, as all the development literature has repeated ad nauseum for 40 years, are essential actors.

Someone, somewhere, did not get the memo.

A “final” July 1 2010 list of prominent individuals circulated by the United Nations End Poverty 2015 Millennium Campaign comprising the “Global Advocacy Team” indicates that not one woman has been assigned to Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 (to reduce child mortality), MDG 5 (to improve maternal health), or MDG 6 (to combat HIV and AIDS and malaria).

This is, quite simply, astounding.

And yet, its not.  Because in the pattern of all things having to do with women’s health–whether we are talking about Utah or Nebraska, Uganda or the United Nations–there are other truths.  Men continue to control the agenda and to decide how much or how little money and attention will be paid to ending the epidemic of pregnancy- and sexually-transmitted infection-related deaths and illnesses that robs millions of women of their lives and health every year worldwide.  Men continue to decide what priorities will be on the table when they do “pay attention” to these issues, and when they won’t, for reasons of their own political or financial agendas or their own ideological or political affiliations or all of the above, address honestly one of the leading and most preventable causes of pregnancy-related death and illness, that being unsafe abortion. Men continue to decide  whether they will, for the sake of ideology cloaked as “common ground,” push for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that leave women disproportionately vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, leave the issue of safe abortion out of research and international documents, confront other issues like stoning as “adulterers” women who’ve been raped, or “accept” that ending the war in Afghanistan likely means leaving women to the “mercy” of the Taliban.  Men decide whether we can talk about women’s health writ large, or even their sexual and reproductive health writ large, or only about the mommas and the babies. (more…)

A hotline that gives women practical information about sexual and reproductive health in general and the use of a medicine called misoprostol to prevent heavy bleeding of women after giving birth and for inducing safe miscarriage at home, will be launched on Saturday the 25th June. Misoprostol is registered as an essential medicine on the list of the World Health Organization and registered in Pakistan under the brand names Arthrotec, Cytotec, Cytopan, and ST Mom®.

Where: press conference at Hotel Ambassador, 7 Davis Road, Lahore, Pakistan
When: 13:00 hrs, Saturday, 26th June, 2010.

The launch is being carried out by the coalition of Pakistani Organization who support women’s rights  – Aware Girls from Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, Peace Foundation from Sindh and Wake Up Call International from Lahore, The hotline is supported by Asia Safe Abortion Partnership, Women on Waves and Women on Web.

Press inquiries:

0315-947 33 66 (Sindh)
0307-494 08 08  (Punjab)
0315-917 04 09 (Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa)
+31-6-52052561 (Women on Waves)

Women needing information in Pakistan/ hotline numbers:

0307 – 494 07 07 – (Urdu, Punjabi)
0315 – 917 04 08 – (Urdu, Pastho)
0315 – 947 33 99 – (Urdu, Sindhi)

Further information:

Pakistan has one of the highest rates of maternal deaths in Asia. Each
year 30 000 women die due to pregnancy related reasons. Nearly 90% of
women deliver at home in the absence of skilled birth attendants. Only
1 in 20 women reaches the emergency obstetric care. Heavy bleeding
after giving birth (PPH, postpartum hemorrhage) is the main cause of
maternal deaths. 80% of maternal deaths happen during home birth.
The abortion rate in Pakistan is 14 in every 100 live births,
approximately 890.000 are performed each year.

An estimated 11-15% of maternal mortality in Pakistan is caused by
unsafe abortions. (more…)

1.  Christival-Prozess

Heute, am 10.6.2010 fand im Verwaltungsgericht Bremen der 2.Verhandlungstag gegen den Polizeieinsatz während des Christivals 2008 statt.

Vor über einem Jahr wurden bei einer kleinen, spontanen Protestaktion gegen das Christival etwa 15 queere Aktivist_innen durch ein absurd großes Aufgebot an Bremer Polizist_innen außerordentlich brutal und teils sexualisiert herumgeschubst, geschlagen, gekesselt und durch die halbe Innenstadt getrieben.
Hierbei kam es zu zwei willkürlichen und gewaltsamen Ingewahrsamnahmen.
Die zwei Betroffenen versuchen seitdem, juristisch gegen die Bremer Polizei vorzugehen. Sie stellten Anzeigen wegen Körperverletzung, Nötigung und Beleidigung. Außerdem wurden Verwaltungsklagen gegen die Ingewahrsamnamen eingereicht.
Wir, die Antirepressionsgruppe 2.5.08 unterstützen sie dabei.

Während am ersten Verhandlungstag im Januar die beiden Kläger_innen gehört wurden, wurde am heutigen 2. Verhandlungstag Zeug_innen beider Seiten gehört, davon 5 Polizist_innen und 2 Aktivist_innen. Nach der insgesamt 10-stündigen Zeug_innenbefragung wurde die Verhandlung erneut vertagt. Der nächste Verhandlungstag wird voraussichtlich im September stattfinden. An diesem Tag wird noch mindestens ein weiterer Zeuge der Polizei gehört. Außerdem wird es um die Frage gehen, ob es sich in den Augen des Gerichts bei der Protestaktion um eine politische Versammlung gehandelt hat, oder nicht.

Weitere Informationen auf

2. Demonstration gegen den “1000 Kreuze”-Marsch der Organisation “Euro ProLife”

Im März des vergangenen Jahres äußerten mehrere hundert Personen Kritik an dem “1000 Kreuze”-Marsch der Organisation “Euro ProLife”. Mittels von Transparenten und Sprechchören kritisierten sie die menschen-verachtenden Positionen der Organisation, die im Rahmen des Aufzuges propagiert wurden. Die Kritikerinnen und Kritiker machten von ihrem Recht auf freie Meinungsäußerung und dem Versammlungsrecht gebrauch.

Genau dies wird den Betroffenen nun als “grobe Störung” vorgeworfen.

Gegen etwa hundert Kritikerinnnen und Kritiker werden derzeit Gerichtsverhandlungen mit dem Vorwurf der Versammlungssprengung (§21 des Versammlungsgesetzes) geführt. Dabei wurden die Verhandlungen im ersten halben Jahr in der Regel vertagt, da die Münsteraner Staatsanwaltschaft die Beweise den zuständigen Rechtsanwält_innen nicht vorgelegt hat oder die Zeugen nicht geladen wurden. Dieses Vorgehen führt zu einem immensen Kostenanstieg auf Seiten der Angeklagten.

Das hauptsächliche Problem stellt jedoch die rechtliche Argumentation der Münsteraner Staatsanwaltschaft dar. Würde sich diese Interpretation der Staatsanwaltschaft durchsetzen, wäre das Versammlungsrecht durch eine veränderte Rechtsprechung ausgehöhlt, ohne materiell angetastet zu werden.

Weitere Informationen entnehmen Sie bitte dem beigefügten offenen Brief und der Internetseite:

Hier der ganze Aufruf:


A second major global gathering on women’s maternal health wrapped up in Washington, D.C., June 9. Participants celebrated progress and a huge new funding infusion and focused pressure on the G-8 summit in Canada later this month.

WASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)–More than 3,500 women from 146 countries converged on the nation’s capital this week for a second major conference on maternal mortality.

They celebrated benchmark achievements in reducing maternal and infant mortality and faced stubborn failures at the same time.

The gathering, organized by the global advocacy group Women Deliver, was able to savor success stories in countries such as Sri Lanka and Malawi, where maternal deaths have been significantly lowered since the first conference was held in London in 2007.

But the Women Deliver conference also offered a forum for tales of women still dying preventable childbirth deaths and of inadequate access to family planning services for 215 million women worldwide.

“We must fight for women’s health with all our resources all the time,” pledged U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon at the opening session on June 7.

Melinda Gates, a major philanthropist in this field, followed later that morning to announce $1.5 billion in new support from the Gates Foundation, based in Seattle, for programs targeting women’s health. She said she hoped that donation would spur the G-8 summit in Canada on June 25, where leaders of eight of the world’s most industrialized nations will meet, to step up in a similar fashion.

Gates pointed out that 350,000 women still die every year giving birth and that 3 million newborns die annually.

“Women and children have finally moved up on the global agenda, and I’m here to tell you that’s where they are going to stay,” she said.

The mother of three added that she “cannot imagine being denied access to the tools” to plan her family and the “basic right to decide how many children to have.”

Integrated Approach

Gates emphasized a theme that emerged in several sessions throughout the three-day conference: the need for a more integrated approach to global family planning efforts that doesn’t address one disease or problem at a time, but instead focuses on caring for the total human being. (more…)

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