Croatian Medical Law Association Comments on Čavajda Case

By 11 May 2022
Croatian Medical Law Association Comments on Čavajda Case
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ZAGREB, 11 May 2022 - In a comment on the case of Mirela Čavajda, the Croatian Medical Law Association says that the institution of conscientious objection is being maligned and imposed as the only obstacle to solving the problem, underlining the need for responsible conduct by all stakeholders.

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 hospitals in Zagreb she contacted had refused to do a termination of pregnancy despite the fact that doctors 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.

The Croatian Medical Law Association says that the right to conscientious objection applies also to doctors, as determined by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1763 of 2010, which says that no legal or physical person shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion, the performance of a human miscarriage, or euthanasia or any act which could cause the death of a human foetus or embryo, for any reason.

The association says the importance of conscientious objection as a criterion for assessing the quality of a legal system is evidenced by International Conscientious Objection Day, observed on 15 May.

It considers as problematic attempts to devalue the institution of conscientious objection through social dilemmas surrounding abortion and similar topics that cause polarisation and calls for a joint approach by different scientific disciplines and professions as well as interest groups, in discussing it.

"Any public political, social or other moralising without clear medical and legal arguments is not acceptable and can only cause deep value, moral and ethical divisions in the already fairly polarised Croatian society", the association's president, Miran Cvitković, says.

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