Milanović: State Must Ensure Medical Assistance for Women

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Image: Zoran Milanović/Facebook screenshot
Image: Zoran Milanović/Facebook screenshot

Čavajda is a 39-year-old who has requested a pregnancy termination because the fetus has been diagnosed with massive brain cancer six months into her pregnancy. She recently told the Index web portal that all the hospitals in Zagreb she contacted had refused to do a termination of pregnancy despite the fact that doctors had told her that the tumour was so big the child most likely would not live long, and even if it did, it would never have a normal life.

Her complaint against the hospitals’ decision is to be discussed by a second-instance commission at the KBC Zagreb Hospital, whose expert commission, formed last week at the request of Health Minister Vili Beroš, was of the view that the child has a chance to live and that neurosurgical treatment is possible if the delivery goes well.

Speaking to reporters after attending the opening of the 15th Job Fair in Zagreb, Milanović warned, in the context of the Čavajda case, that most gynaecologists in hospitals in Zagreb refuse to perform abortions, noting that “the state should step in.”

“In the past five years the state should have stepped in to say – all right, certain procedures will be ensured, under certain conditions, and women meeting those conditions will have access to those procedures and a certain kind of protection. When we say that women should have the right to choose – that is indeed so, but the law has always set certain limits. We are talking about a woman’s choice up to a certain week of pregnancy, after which things get more complicated. That is the case in the entire world,” he said.

“In my opinion, justice and morality are on the side of this lady,” he said, warning about the problem of manipulation of conscientious objection.

“There are certain procedures, but they are evidently manipulated. That is why I am saying that in the case of (Zagreb’s) Sveti Duh Hospital, where there are no gynaecologists (willing to perform abortions) – some of them I know personally and for some I know for sure that they are not conscientious objectors but are opportunists – the state, the ministry should step in and make sure assistance is provided to women,” he said, stressing that he was not talking about a specific case but in general.

“It cannot happen that tomorrow we do not have a single gynaecologist in public hospitals in Zagreb that is not a conscientious objector,” he said.

Noting that the older he was, the more delicate the topic of abortion was for him, Milanović said that what he did know for sure was that nobody can be a victim of the system just because no gynaecologist in public hospitals is willing to perform abortions while the state fails to do anything in that regard.

For more, check out our politics and lifestyle sections.


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