They call themselves “conscientious objectors,” a term coined by pacifists who have refused military service. And like those who claimed the moral duty not to go to war, many doctors in Spain claim that performing abortions would violate their oath of no harm – a pledge, they say, that extends to the fetus.
“It’s one thing if you think abortion is right or wrong; each person will have their own criteria, ”explains Dr María Jesús Barco, another gynecologist from Zaragoza who is an objector. “It’s another thing if I have to do it. It’s different. “
Conscientious objection has gained ground in other countries, such as Italy, where it has been cited by doctors working in hospitals that generally do not perform abortions. And in Argentina, he has curtailed attempts to liberalize an abortion law that was passed there last year.
In five of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions – the equivalent of states – no public hospital offers abortion, according to the most recent government statistics. Women can still have an abortion at a subsidized private clinic, but in many cases they have to cross state borders to get one.
This is what Erika Espinosa, 34, had to do in 2015 when her gynecologist in the town of Logroño did not perform an abortion after requesting one.
“The doctors are trying to convince you that you don’t love your child because he wants an abortion,” said Ms Espinosa, who traveled to the nearby Navarre region to terminate her pregnancy. “I felt like I was doing something underground. “