Friday, 7 August 2009

One step forward for Italy; two steps back for Québec?

Italian women may soon have access to RU 486 medication on a limited basis.

The Vatican and Catholic politicians today reacted with dismay to a decision by Italy's drugs agency to approve limited use of the abortion pill Mifepristone, which has been available in much of the rest of Europe since the 1990s. Senior Vatican officials said women who took the pill would be excommunicating themselves, as would doctors who prescribed it and nurses who administered it. Because of the high proportion of conscientious objectors to abortion in the Italian health service – some 70% – it is likely that use of the pill will be circumscribed.

After a reportedly heated four-hour session that ended late on Thursday, the board of the Italian pharmaceuticals agency, AIFA, voted by four to one to approve Mifepristone. But it stipulated that the pill should only be administered in hospital during the first seven weeks of pregnancy.

Unfortunately it appears that new health care regulations in Québec will make it more difficult for women to obtain a IVG (interruption volontaire de grossesse) in the future. Le Devoir and other media report that the requirements of Bill 34 which establishes understandably rigorous standards for private clinics, in the wake of medical accidents such as Micheline Charest's death in 2004, may lead to the closure of some abortion clinics. Physicians and obstetricians are lobbying the government to exclude IVG procedures from Bill 34, since in their professional opinion there is no justification to apply such requirements. Abortions practised in the first trimester are normally performed with the administration of a local anaesthetic; complex root canals are more risky than such IVG. Doctors and nurses who work in clinics and in hospitals have pointed out that first trimester abortions provided in institutional settings do not have to meet these requirements.

It's one of those events that, as with federal Bill C-484 (now-defunct), makes you wonder if a tiny group of anti-choice bureaucrats and politicians hoped to sneak these restrictions under the radar, without the benefit of public scrutiny. Polls have indicated that the majority of Canadians support access to abortion.

One inadvertently comic note about the Italian story, which includes far too much information about the Italian prime minister (emphasis ours):
For Silvio Berlusconi's government and its supporters, this was a delicate moment for any announcement bearing on sexual ethics. Recordings purportedly made by a prostitute who claims that she spent the night with Italy's 72-year-old married prime minister have focused public attention on his own apparently wide-ranging sex life. In one, a businessman who allegedly supplied women for parties at Berlusconi's home can be heard warning one of them that the prime minister never uses a condom.
That must make him a good Catholic - right?


fern hill said...

I was dismayed when I read about the situation in Quebec. I hope the clinics will be able to convince the regulators to make an exception for them.

It does make one wonder about the secret motivations of some bureaucrats and pols. . .

berlynn said...

I can't imagine any politican in Quebec risking the wrath of the women in Quebec by allowing this to happen.

deBeauxOs said...

B, that's why the inclusion of IVGs was snuck in under the radar. The Association of Family Physicians in Québec is now seriously lobbying to redress the situation, and I imagine with greater media coverage, women will be contacting their MPPs with their concerns.

Post a Comment