Regulation of Conscientious Objection to Abortion






Wendy Chavkin, laurel Swerdlow y Jocelyn Fifield


Regulation of Conscientious Objection to Abortion
An International Comparative Multiple-Case Study

Since abortion laws were liberalized in Western Europe, conscientious objection (CO) to abortion has become increasingly contentious. We investigated the efficacy and acceptability of laws and policies that permit CO and ensure access to legal abortion services. This is a comparative multiple-case study, which triangulates multiple data sources, including interviews with key stakeholders from all sides of the debate in England, Italy, Norway, and Portugal. While the laws in all four countries have similarities, we found that implementation varied. In this sample, the ingredients that appear necessary for a functional health system that guarantees access to abortion while still permitting CO include clarity about who can object and to which components of care; ready access by mandating referral or establishing direct entry; and assurance of a functioning abortion service through direct provision or by contracting services. Social attitudes toward both objection and abortion, and the prevalence of CO, additionally influence the degree to which CO policies are effectively implemented in these cases. England, Norway, and Portugal illustrate that it is possible to accommodate individuals who object to providing abortion, while still assuring that women have access to legal health care services.