Addressing Medical Professionals’ Refusals to Provide Abortion Care on Grounds of Conscience or Religion: European Human Rights Jurisprudence on State Obligations to Guarantee Women’s Access to Legal Reproductive Health Care
In many European countries where abortion is legal, domestic laws and regulations allow medical professionals to refuse to provide abortion care on grounds of conscience or religion. However, evidence indicates that in some of these countries the failure of state authorities to effectively regulate and monitor such refusals and enforce safeguards undermines women’s ability to obtain timely, safe, and legal abortion care.
International human rights law and standards require states to ensure that medical professionals’ refusals of care do not jeopardize women’s access to legal reproductive health care. As a result, where European governments fail to ensure that medical professionals’ refusals of care do not impede women’s access to legal reproductive health care, they contravene international human rights law and standards.
This fact sheet clarifies and summarizes these obligations and presents an overview of European human rights jurisprudence related to medical professionals’ refusals to provide abortion care and other forms of reproductive health care on grounds of conscience or religion.Download PDF