Zagreb Hospitals Unlawfully Refusing Medically Justified Abortion

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A pregnant Croatian woman whose 24-week-old fetus was diagnosed with a malignant and deadly brain tumor was denied an abortion after hospitals in Zagreb have refused to perform the procedure, reviving the abortion debate in the staunchly Roman Catholic country.

Although the abortion is legal in Croatia until the fetus is in its tenth week – and even later if there is medical evidence that the baby would be significantly malformed – an increasing number of obstetricians in the country refuse to perform it.

In the case of the 39-year-old woman, the doctors in four Zagreb hospitals have told her that an abortion would be illegal though admitting the baby could not survive after birth since the MRI scans have clearly shown the growing tumor in the fetus’ brain

The woman’s lawyer, Vanja Juric, stressed that her client has no support or advice since she was told by the doctors to go home or seek medical help in neighboring Slovenia despite the fact that all her medical documentation suggests that conditions that need to be met for the abortion to be performed after the tenth week, as listed by the law, were fully met.

Unfortunately, many hospitals in Croatia are de facto denying women this right guaranteed by law and the constitution because many doctors whose job description includes abortion have decided to appeal to their conscience.

Reminding that all the codes of ethics of the medical profession put the interest of patients first, Croatian gynecologist Jasenka Grujic, who advocates for ensuring the right to abortion in accordance with the law, warned that failure to keep the law means working illegally

She stressed that it’s unbelievable that the medical community, especially doctors, does not abide by the law in force pointing out that the individual physician’s worldview must remain secondary.

Grujic also underscored that in a secular state, which in no way supports abortion, the religious communities must not impose their views on a science-based profession.

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