Rome doctors left woman to abort baby in toilet

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Pregnant woman photo: Shutterstock.
17:15 CET+01:00
A woman in Rome has accused doctors of abandoning her to give birth in a hospital toilet, allegedly because medical staff objected to her having an abortion.

Valentina, whose surname was not published, told a court on Monday that she went through 15 hours of “excruciating pain” at Rome’s Pertini Hospital before her husband helped her to the toilet, where she gave birth to the fetus.

Recounting her experience from October 2010, Valentina said she was admitted to hospital to have an abortion after tests showed that the fetus, at five months, was suffering from a serious deformity.

But after beginning the medial procedure to induce an abortion, she was abandoned by medical staff.

“After 15 hours in excruciating pain, vomiting and fainting, I gave birth inside the toilet with just the help of my husband,” she was quoted as saying in Huffington Post Italia.

“No-one assisted us, not even after we asked for first aid over and over again,” she said.

The medical staff reportedly refused to help Valentina because of their conscientious objection to abortion.

When contacted by The Local, a hospital spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

Valentina went to court this week to challenge their actions, arguing that under Italian law women have a right to abortion access despite exemptions being made for medical staff who object.

Speaking in court, lawyer Filomena Gallo said that refusing to help Valentina amounted to “a failure in duty of care - which is a crime”.

The couple did not immediately report what had happened because they were upset, Valentina told the court.

“No woman in the world should have to endure what I did, and unfortunately so many women have to go through it,” she said.

Despite the late stage of her pregnancy and the baby’s genetic deformity, passed on by the mother, Valentina’s gynecologist reportedly refused to admit her to hospital. She was then forced to find another gynecologist to issue paperwork for the procedure, Corriere della Sera said.

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Valentina had previously suffered an ectopic pregnancy and was denied access to fertility treatment which could have stopped the genetic condition being passed on to her baby, the newspaper said.

Although abortion is legal in Italy, access to the medical procedure can be near-impossible for some women.

According to a UN report, 70 percent of healthcare professionals have evoked the conscience clause, which means they do not have to take part in abortions. In southern Italy, the rate is 90 percent, while “in many smaller hospitals, there are no personnel willing to perform an abortion,” the report said. 

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