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Italian doctor 'refused to assist abortion'

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Italian doctor 'refused to assist abortion'
Abortion pill photo: Shutterstock
09:09 CEST+02:00
A woman in the process of having a medical abortion was forced to call police to a hospital in Genoa on Easter Saturday after a doctor, described as a ‘conscientious objector' to abortion, refused to assist her.

The 19-year-old had taken the first stage of an abortion drug two days earlier and returned to the gynaecology unit at St Martino di Genova hospital for the second part of the process, as well as to have an ultrasound to check if the pill was working, Il Secolo XIX reported on Wednesday.

But Salvatore Felis, 57, the only doctor on duty due to the Easter holiday, allegedly refused to assist her on moral grounds.

The woman was then kept waiting for hours, the newspaper said.

“She was alone, in the company of nurses who didn’t know what was going on and could not help her. Nobody took the trouble to explain what was happening,” the news website said.

She was finally seen to after the police arrived, and a doctor was found to provide the pill and perform the ultrasound.

“It was a mistake,” admitted the department’s head, Claudio Gustavio.

“The patient had every right to be able to conclude a process that had already started. In future, I will make sure this never happens again and I will ensure all shifts are fully covered, even during difficult periods like Christmas and Easter.”

The health authorities are deciding whether or not to take action against the doctor.

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

A report from the Italian government last year said that more than 80 percent of gynaecologists and over 50 percent of of anesthesiologists and nurses refuse to participate in abortions.

Earlier this month, an Italian woman from Turin died after taking an abortion pill.

READ MORE HERE: Italian woman dies after taking abortion drug

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