Analysis 14 Feb 17

Doctors’ Refusal to Perform Abortions Divides Croatia

Controversy has been growing in Croatia as increasing numbers of doctors have been declining to carry out abortions, citing a law that allows them to refuse on moral or religious grounds.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Doctor Trpimir Goluza, decided not perform abortions due to conscientious objection. Photo: Croatian Chamber of Medicine

The issue of doctors invoking a conscientious objection clause in Croatian law and refusing to perform abortions has become an increasingly controversial issue which has split the public and health experts.

According to extensive research by the Croatian daily newspaper Jutarnji list in 2014, some 66 per cent of doctors in the capital Zagreb, and as many as 95 per cent of doctors in Croatia’s second-biggest city of Split, refuse to carry out abortions, citing their right to do so on ethical, religious or moral grounds.

Although a predominantly Catholic country, with over 86 per cent of the population being registered believers, abortion is allowed in Croatia in line with the 1978 Law on Medical Procedures, which Croatia inherited from the former Yugoslavia.

The Croatian Constitutional Court is currently discussing the law due to a complaint filed back in 1991, after Croatia broke away from Yugoslavia, by Ruzica Cavar, founder of a socially conservative Christian NGO called the Croatian Movement for Life and Family.

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