United Nations calls on Government to take direct action after Italy fails to apply law 194


(Gender-based discrimination / Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights)

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The United Nations Human Rights Committee has expressed serious concerns about the difficulties women face across Italy in accessing legal abortion services as a result of the Italian authorities’ failures to address serious gaps in services due to the high number of health care professionals denying care across the country.

The report released today found that the Italian government’s failure to ensure adequate availability of abortion care violates women’s human rights and compels many women to seek clandestine abortions.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee urged the Italian Government to take the necessary measures to guarantee unimpeded and timely access to legal abortion services across the entire country to all women seeking these services.

Among the necessary measures, the Italian government must create an effective referral system for women who are refused abortion care by medical professionals

“This requires establishing protocols and guidelines ensuring that hospitals that do not provide abortion services can guarantee that patients receive them at other health facilities,” explains Irene Donadio, from IPPF EN.

“This outcome is an important result for women in Italy. For a long time, too many women in Italy were maltreated when they requested the provision of a service guaranteed by law. After the Council of Europe, the United Nations demanded respect for the rights and dignity of women. Now the Italian government must take appropriate measures.”

LAIGA, Vita di Donna, the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) and the Center for Reproductive Rights submitted a report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee highlighting Italy’s breaches of its human rights obligations to guarantee women’s access to legal abortion services.

Dr Silvana Agatone, gynaecologist and president of LAIGA, said: “If the Italian government follows the recommendations as it must, women will finally be guaranteed that when hospitals do not provide the service, there is a well-documented path to another service provider in a short time. It is a step forward!”

Katrine Thomasen, Senior Legal Advisor at the Center for Reproductive Rights added: “Women in Italy face serious risks to their health and wellbeing as a result of Italian authorities’ failures to guarantee access to quality reproductive health services. Today the Human Rights Committee made it clear that the Italian government cannot ignore its human rights obligations and must guarantee women’s access to legal abortion services. It’s time the government prioritizes women’s health and works swiftly to implement measures that give women timely access to the full range of reproductive health services, including legal abortion.”

Read the full statement from the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network.