Medical vs Surgical Abortion. Overview of European Legislation and Health Care Practice
Aim: Abortifacient drugs such as Ru-486, mifepristone, used in combination with a prostaglandin analogue (misoprostol) for the purpose of achieving medical abortion, have given rise to major legal, ethical and moral quandaries, which legislators all over Europe have striven to overcome by reconciling the reproductive rights of women with those of dissenting medical personnel.
Methods: International literature from the seventies to July 2020 has been reviewed from Pubmed database, Google Scholar and Scopus, drawing upon American, Italian and international sources (an ethically acceptable solution can only be achieved through an over-haul of the laws currently in effect).
Results: The unresolved rift between the reproductive will of women and medical professionals claim to conscientious refusal to treat, i.e., refusal to perform abortions or to prescribe abortifacient medicine, in such overwhelming numbers in Italy and elsewhere, has given rise to the impossibility of many women to terminate their pregnancies as they had chosen to. As a matter of fact, in 2018, only 64.9% of Italian public hospitals were able to guarantee access to abortion services. Hence, 35% of Italian facilities fail to meet the standards as set by law 194/78.
Conclusion: The Authors have aimed to shed light on how medical abortion is to be preferred over a surgical one, and how major European countries have dealt with such an extremely thorny issue that has polarized the public opinion and scientific community members alike.