Abortion: are South American doctors often obliged to act against their conscience?

Publié le 1 Mar, 2016

The Interamerican Court of Human Rights could soon pass judgment on the obligation for South American doctors to act against their conscience, at least in the case of abortion.


In a document presented to the Court, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) [1] confirmed that “hospitals, charitable organisations and faculties are not entitled to freedom of conscience in terms of ‘reproductive health’ services”, and that the medical staff in these public or private institutions do not benefit from this prerogative, which belongs to individuals. By invoking international law, the CRR is supporting the fact that, “the obligation for States to grant legal access to abortion should always prevail over the protection of conscience and personal beliefs”.


However, there is no clear, limiting consensus on this subject at international level since the 1994 United Nations agreement on population and development attributed this question to State competence and the European Human Rights system did not recognise the fundamental right to abortion.  Freedom of conscience, for its part, is a right recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Interamerican Convention.


[1] Legal group based in New York, in favour of abortion across the globe. 


C-Fam (02/03/2016)

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