The EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights released a 40-page opinion on the right to conscientious objection in light of a proposed treaty between the Vatican and Slovakia. The treaty would guarantee that Catholic hospitals and medical professionals would not be legally obligated to "perform artificial abortions, artificial or assisted fertilizations, experiments with or handling of human organs, human embryos or human sex cells, euthanasia, cloning, sterilizations, [and] acts connected with contraception..." The Network was charged with determining whether or not such an agreement would be a violation of EU law. The report recognizes that its findings are recommendations and "not binding."
While the Network acknowledged the right to conscientious objection, it warned that such a right was not "unlimited." "Indeed, the right to religious conscientious objection may conflict with other rights, also recognized under international law. In such circumstances, an adequate balance must be struck between these conflicting requirements, which may not lead to one right being sacrificed to another."
The opinion declares that the "right to religious conscientious objection" "should be regulated in order to ensure that, in circumstances where abortion is legal, no woman shall be deprived from having effective access to the medical service of abortion. In the view of the Network, this implies that the State concerned must ensure, first, that an effective remedy should be open to challenge any refusal to provide abortion; second, that an obligation will be imposed on the health care practitioner exercising his or her right to religious conscientious objection to refer the woman seeking abortion to another qualified health care practitioner who will agree to perform the abortion; third, that another qualified health care practitioner will be indeed available, including in rural areas or in areas which are geographically remote from the centre."
In e-mail correspondence obtained by the Friday Fax between international abortion rights leaders, the decision was praised. Irene Donadio of International Planned Parenthood Federation wrote, "The Conclusions reflect all the arguments presented by the SRHR [sexual and reproductive health and rights] community!"
- (This article courtesy of The Fact Is.org.)