Thursday, 2 June 2022

Mirela Čavajda: Misdemeanor Procedure Initiated Against KB Sveti Duh

May 2, 2022 - The Health Inspectorate has initiated misdemeanor proceedings against KB Sveti Duh and director Ana-Marija Šimundić for violating the rights of Mirela Čavajda, who was denied information when the powers that be were deciding on her request for the termination of her pregnancy.

The case of Mirela Čavajda, a 39-year-old pregnant woman whose request to have an abortion during the 26th week of pregnancy after the fetus was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor was rejected by four hospitals in Zagreb, and caused enormous outrage across the country last month, with demands for the reproductive rights and healthcare rights of Croatian women to be respected.

Considering that omissions of non-compliance with the Law on Protection of Patients' Rights, such as the right to complete information, were established during the investigation into Mirela's case, the Health Inspectorate has now initiated misdemeanor proceedings before the competent misdemeanor court, reports

The hospital faces a fine of up to 50,000 kuna

The Health Inspectorate determined that the first-instance commission of KB Sveti Duh decided on Mirela Čavajda's request to terminate her pregnancy on May 3 this year, but did not submit its decision to the patient. Additionally, the patient was not informed that she had the right to contact the second-instance commission of the University Hospital Centre Zagreb.

The inspection found that this violated the Law on Patients' Rights, which stipulates that "patients have the right to be fully informed about the course of treatment when healthcare is being provided to them."

For these offenses, a fine of 10,000 to 50,000 kuna is envisaged for the hospital, and the requirement to pay a fine of 5,000 to 10,000 kuna is imposed the responsible person, in this case, the director of the hospital, Ana-Marija Šimundić. KB Sveti Duh was one of four Zagreb hospitals that refused to terminate Mirela Čavajda's pregnancy in the sixth month of gestation after the fetus was found to have an extremely serious brain tumor.

The medical procedure will finally be possible for Mirela in neighbouring Slovenia, and the costs of the procedure will be covered thanks to donations from 1,472 natural persons and 16 legal entities, who donated 220,687 kuna and 37 lipa through the SOLIDARNA foundation, and with the cooperation of CESI, RODA, and PaRiter. The cost of the medical procedure in Slovenia otherwise stands at 5,000 euros.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

List of Croatian Hospitals Where No Gynecologist Wants to Perform Abortions

May 14, 2022 - Out of a total of 359 gynecologists in Croatian hospitals, 195 refuse to perform abortions.

Of the 29 public hospitals in Croatia that have a contracted abortion service with the HZZO on request, in six of them, no gynecologist wants to do so because they have a conscience appeal, writes Večernji listClinical Hospital Sveti Duh in Zagreb, General County Hospital Vinkovci, OŽB Našice, and OŽB Požega and General Hospitals in Virovitica and Nova Gradiška are institutions whose gynecologists employed there have called to conscience and do not want to perform abortions at the request of women.

In the Požega hospital, along with gynecologists and all five anesthesiologists, they also called for conscience and do not perform abortions. Out of a total of 359 hospital gynecologists in Croatia, 164 gynecologists agree to work in public hospitals at the request of a woman by the legally regulated and legal procedure of abortion, and 195 refuse to do so.

Due to his conscientious objection, 38 out of a total of 698 specialists in anesthesiology, resuscitation, and intensive care, as many as work in Croatian hospitals, refuse to perform abortions, according to data from the Digital Atlas of Medicine of the Croatian Medical Chamber. Some nurses and midwives and even pharmacists in pharmacies also called for a conscience appeal, but we did not find out exactly how many.

There is no conscience appeal in some hospitals

The conscientious objection in an individual hospital is regulated by the employee writing a statement invoking the right to conscientious objection and delivering it to the employer, such as the personnel or legal service, the director's office or the hospital board, and in some cases appeals are only recorded at the gynecology department.

There is no uniform practice. There are no or almost no appeals of conscience in hospitals in Rijeka, Karlovac, Ogulin, Sisak, Koprivnica, Pakrac, Knin, Vukovar, Pula and Čakovec.

All hospitals whose doctors invoked conscience for abortion have hired doctors from another institution, to whom they then pay extra or have contracts with the health institution where the procedure is performed. Thus, they have fulfilled the legal obligation that they must ensure legal and accessible abortion, writes the journalist of Večernji list Romana Kovačević Barišić.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 13 May 2022

Hospital Doctors Call For Adopting New Abortion Law

ZAGREB, 13 May 2022 - The HUBOL association of hospital doctors on Friday requested the adoption of a new abortion and pregnancy termination law, saying that half-truths on the case of Mirela Čavajda are creating an unacceptable campaign against doctors and misinterpreting the role of conscientious objection.

In a statement, HUBOL expressed genuine regret for Čavajda, whose unborn child has a brain tumour.

HUBOL said conscientious objection was founded in international legal documents, Croatian law, and the Code of Medical Ethics, and legally, everything about it was clear.

Čavajda's case is not about conscientious objection, HUBOL said, adding that a woman's legal right to abortion and pregnancy termination and a doctor's right to conscientious objection must not be mutually exclusive.

"The Ministry of Health has the duty to ensure conditions for the exercise of both rights," the statement said.

Pregnancy termination in case of a seriously malformed fetus after the 22nd week is feticide, which is not regulated by Croatian law, HUBOL said, adding that a doctor who performs it could be criminally charged.

If such a pregnancy is terminated in a way that results in a live birth, the neonatologist is legally obliged to provide for the baby in the best way possible, or risk being sued for negligence, HUBOL added.

It called for adopting a new law that would clearly regulate the rights and obligations of doctors regarding pregnancy termination as well as protecting children, pregnant women, mothers and doctors from misinterpretations.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

KBC Zagreb Says Has Informed Čavajda Of Available Pregnancy Termination Procedure

ZAGREB, 12 May 2022 - The KBC Zagreb hospital said on Thursday that it informed Mirela Čavajda, a 39-year-old woman whose pregnancy termination request was approved on Wednesday, about the pregnancy termination procedure available at the city's Women's Diseases and Maternity Hospital, but that she refused it.

"Doctors - a gynaecologist and a pediatrician specialising in neonatology - have provided Mrs Čavajda with information regarding the method of pregnancy termination that is available at the Women's Diseases and Maternity Hospital (induction of premature labour), which she refused," KBC Zagreb said in response to a query from Hina.

A second-instance commission at KBC Zagreb on Wednesday approved pregnancy termination for Čavajda based on medical indications and her attorney Vanja Jurić said that Mirela and her family had decided to go to a hospital in Ljubljana to have the procedure.

Jurić stressed that the Zagreb hospital could not provide Čavajda with care pursuant to the decision of the second-instance commission and provisions of the law on abortion.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Women Mps Call On Public To Join Protest Rallies In Support Of Mirela Čavajda

ZAGREB, 12 May 2022 - Women MPs from Croatian leftist and liberal parties have called on the public to join protest rallies to be held in several cities across the country on Thursday evening in support of Mirela Čavajda and all women who are denied their legal right to abortion and other forms of medical care.

"It is high time we said enough is enough to the Church, to the (ruling) Croatian Democratic Union and Health Minister Vili Beroš or anyone else who has the cheek to decide on a daily basis on women's rights and the human rights of any individual to decide on their own body. Today we all have a chance to speak out for human rights and women's rights, because if we stay on the sidelines, tomorrow our daughters, granddaughters, mothers, sisters, acquaintances and girlfriends will have to justify their decisions to hypocrites and chauvinists," Mirela Ahmetović of the Social Democratic Party told a joint press conference.

This protest is the foundation for amending the law to enable women to use their own bodies as they saw fit, Ahmetović said, stressing that such an amendment was inevitable and would certainly happen. "Let's show that we are undivided on this issue," she added.

"It is important that we say enough is enough to the tyranny," Ivana Kekin of the Green-Left Bloc said and added: "All opinion polls show that 70 per cent of citizens think that women have the right to decide about their own body. We are all on the same side in this regard."

Kekin said that human, women's and reproductive rights are not respected in Croatia because of a conservative revolution that has been going on for decades. "It is no coincidence that the most conservative people are in charge of the most important health institutions which deny the right to a pregnancy termination."

Katarina Peović of the Workers' Front called for the right to abortion to be restored in the Constitution. "If the right to abortion were included in the Constitution, it would be difficult to interpret it in different ways. It is also important to admit that the Church is highly responsible for the retraditionalisation of society," she said.

"We've had enough of seeing our citizens, including women, going abroad to exercise their rights. Croatia cannot survive like that," Dalija Orešković (Centre) warned.

Protest rallies have been scheduled for 6 pm on Thursday in Zagreb, Pula, Rijeka, Sisak, Split, Šibenik, Osijek, Zadar and the southern island of Korčula to express solidarity with Mirela Čavajda, 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.

Čavajda recently told the media that all the hospitals in Zagreb she had contacted refused to do a termination of the pregnancy despite the fact that doctors told her that the tumour was so big the child would most likely not live long, or even if it did, it would never have a normal life.

Her lawyer, Vanja Jurić, told Hina on Thursday that the decision by a second-instance commission, which has allowed Čavajda to have her pregnancy terminated, set a precedent in Croatia because it confirmed that a pregnancy termination in such cases was legal. She said they were pleased for the sake of all women who might find themselves in a similar situation in the future.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Mirela Čavajda: Rally in Support of Women Health Rights on Thursday 12th

May 9, 2022 - Mirela Čavajda, a 39-year-old pregnant woman who requested an abortion in the 26th week of pregnancy after the fetus was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, had her request rejected by three hospitals in Zagreb. Donations from 1,472 citizens and 16 legal entities will cover Mirela's medical procedure that will take place in Slovenia.

The case of Mirela Čavajda, a 39-year-old pregnant woman whose request to have an abortion in the 26th week of pregnancy after the fetus was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor was rejected by three hospitals in Zagreb, has caused great outrage in the country, with demands for the reproductive rights and health rights of Croatian women to be respected.

The medical procedure will finally be possible for Mirela in Slovenia, whose costs will be covered thanks to donations from 1,472 citizens and 16 legal entities, who donated 220,687 kuna and 37 lipa through the SOLIDARNA foundation, and with the cooperation of CESI, RODA, and PaRiter, reports The cost of the medical procedure in Slovenia is 5,000 euros.

"1472 citizens and 16 legal entities expressed their support for Mirela. Thank you all for the solidarity shown to our fellow citizen in these difficult times! Thank you for proving that when the state turns its back on one of us, we can count on each other! The necessary funds will be directed immediately to Mirela, and the surplus will be used to help women cover the costs of all forms of health care. Because access to health care is not and should not be a worldview issue," the RODA association wrote.

Members of the RODA Association invited citizens to join them at a rally in support of Mirela on Thursday, May 12 at 6 pm at Ban Jelačić Square in Zagreb. More information can be found at the official Facebook event.

"Join us and loudly say ENOUGH of political games at the expense of women's health," the Roda association wrote.

The decision that Mirela Čavajda was not entitled to the termination of her pregnancy, even if the law allows it when there are medical indications that can be expected to "give birth to a child with severe congenital physical or mental disabilities" at the level I, was made mainly by female doctors, and that without a word of explanation for Mirela, reports Jutarnji List.

In the same way, in the same tone in which Mirela Čavajda withheld information about her rights and possibilities when she faced a difficult diagnosis in high pregnancy and sent her to Slovenia, three Zagreb hospitals rejected her request to terminate the pregnancy: without any arguments. It is also interesting that in different hospitals her request was decided by differently appointed bodies under different bureaucratic names, although the law states that the request is decided by a commission.

The first-degree commission for the free decision-making on the birth of children at the Merkur Clinical Hospital, where the pregnant woman, according to her own words, had a feeling that she was being persuaded to give birth when they denied her request.

The three-member Commission consisting of Željko Duić, Dorothea Pavan Jukić, and Biserka Matok Glavaš, rejected the pregnant woman's request as follows:

''The subject request for termination of pregnancy is not approved and the pregnant woman is referred to the second-degree Commission of KBC Zagreb, which decides on the complaint against the first-degree Commission''.

In KBC Sestre milosrdnice, Vesna Gail, Ivan Brlečić, and Blaženka Sumpor were even more stingy: "Based on the insight into the conducted diagnostic tests, it is not possible to determine the definitive diagnosis with certainty and the request is rejected."

The Clinic for Women's Diseases and Obstetrics in Petrova, consisting of Vesna Elveđa Gašparović, Marina Ivanišević, and Đurđica Zlodi, is somewhat more eloquent.

They determine that "by reviewing the submitted documentation, all previous medical procedures: perinatal ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging of the fetal head indicate the development of a tumor in the brain, verification of which requires postnatal medical diagnosis and pathohistological diagnosis. The first-degree commission concluded that it could not approve a premature birth."

Unlike the first two mentioned hospitals, the clinic in Petrova has not forgotten its legal obligation to teach the patient about the possible legal recourse and informed her that she can file a complaint to the second-degree Commission within three days.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 6 May 2022

Ministry Requests Information From Hospitals on Pregnancy Termination Case

ZAGREB, 6 May (2022) - The Health Ministry said on Thursday that it requested the four Zagreb hospitals where 39-year-old Mirela Čavajda had asked for a pregnancy termination after her unborn baby was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour, to send it information about the case.

Čavajda contacted four Zagreb hospitals, of which the KB Sveti Duh Hospital and the Sisters of Charity Hospital refused to perform the procedure, while the KB Merkur Hospital and the Hospital for Women's Diseases, popularly known as Petrova, have still not sent her any answer.

"The Health Ministry has requested the medical institutions contacted by the patient, which reportedly did not provide her with timely and accurate information about her options, to provide information on the case. Depending on further findings, the Ministry will make a decision on possible further steps from within the remit of the healthcare inspectorate," the ministry said.

It noted that every woman has the right to abort in cases where there are medical indications.

"The Health Ministry draws the attention of all health institutions to their duty to provide timely and accurate information to patients on their rights and the options they have in Croatia," the ministry said.

Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević on Thursday condemned the case as discrimination of women, announcing that the management of the Sveti Duh Hospital, of which the City of Zagreb is the founder and where all gynecologists are conscientious objectors, would secure conditions for all types of pregnancy termination at the hospital as soon as possible.

He also noted that the hospital's director had formed a commission to establish the circumstances of the case.

 For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

Opposition Mps: Abortion Should Be Available In All Hospitals

ZAGREB, 5 May 2022 - Female lawmakers from the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Social Democrats, Green-Left Boc, Centre, GLAS, Croatian Peasants' Party (HSS) and Workers' Front announced on Thursday they would once again send a motion to Parliament for abortion to be made available in all hospitals in Croatia.

"The case where a child was diagnosed with a malignant tumour in the 26th week of pregnancy and could die, and if it doesn't, it will live like a vegetable has shaken us all but unfortunately, this is just the consequence of a problem that Croatia has been faced with for years," MP Sabina Glasovac (SDP) said at a joint press conference.

Glasovac said that the law treats Croatian women as "second-rate" recalling that the Constitutional Court had clearly said already in 2017 that the present law, dating from 1978, should be updated and made implementable. The government has done nothing in that regard "because of fear of losing part of its electorate and in that way, it is sacrificing the health and lives of women."

Glasovac said that the opposition did not just watch from the sidelines but reacted in 2020 by  submitting a bill. However, the government did not react to it.

She announced that the opposition would once again submit its bill into the procedure and collect signatures from MPs to 'push' it onto the Sabor's agenda prior to the summer recess.

"We will seek that every health institution regardless of conscientious objection ensures a sufficient number of doctors who will provide this medical service to terminate a pregnancy without seeking the reason for it, for it to be ensured and legally implementable," Glasovac announced.

Katica Glamuzina (Social Democrats) said that they are inviting Health Minister Beroš to come to the Sabor and explain why the law has not been adopted in the past three years, why the conscientious objection is not regulated by any act and why patients are referred to Slovenia to pay €1,000 for something they should have for free in their own country.

Raukar Gamulin (ZLB): System has left the desperate pregnant woman on her own

Urša Raukar Gamulin (Green-Left Bloc) said that the incomprehensible tragedy of a pregnant woman was not enough and that the system has left her to be completely on her own.

"The thing that happened to that pregnant woman is a tragedy of the system and has shown that there is no 'health system' to protect women. The system is obliged to ensure an abortion for every woman regardless of conscientious objection because what is happening now is inhumane and has no regard for that woman. We do not know how many women have been referred to Slovenia to solve their problem, but as she said, she is a citizen of Croatia and wants to solve her problem in Croatia," Raukar Gamulin said.

Katarina Peović (Workers' Front) warned  that the vested right, support from the science community, and support from the legislature for women ensuring their health and right to manage their own bodies "did not last long."

"We will fight with all our means to raise that issue to a higher level, to put it in the public sphere, because only the fight by both men and women can restore this right that was once won," she said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

Opposition MP Pushes For Ensuring Access To Abortion In All Hospitals

ZAGREB, 7 April 2022 - The head of the GLAS party and its sole parliamentary deputy, Anka Mrak Taritaš, said on Thursday that she would launch a parliamentary procedure to oblige the government to ensure access to termination of pregnancy services in all the hospitals in Croatia.

Mrak Taritaš told a news conference that the legal regulations enabling right to conscientious objection in lawful medical care were "rather fluid" and could be broadly interpreted, which was why the application of the right to conscientious objection became the main obstacle to the access to abortion in healthcare institutions.

Mrak-Taritaš presented data collected by the Platform for Reproductive Justice NGO showing that in 2020, out of 29 public healthcare institutions that had licences for abortion, eight did not provide services of termination of pregnancy due to the right to conscientious objection.

Politics: For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

MEP Says Croatia Fares Poorly in Terms of Access to Legal, Safe Abortion

ZAGREB, 28 Sept, 2021 - Compared to other countries, Croatia fares poorly in terms of access to legal and safe abortion, a Croatian member of the European Parliament, Social Democrat Predrag Matić, said on the occasion of International Safe Abortion Day and the presentation of the Abortion Atlas.

"The Abortion Atlas is a new tool that gives an overview of countries according to the availability of abortion, and more importantly, the kind of obstacles women across Europe encounter in terms of access to abortion. Croatia is in the lower section of the ladder in that regard, with the situation considered as poor. Even though abortion in Croatia is legal, we have a problem with practical obstacles to access to abortion," Matić said, as quoted by his office.

The Abortion Atlas, authored by the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, is the first comprehensive interactive map with data on access to abortion in Europe.

It ranks 52 countries in terms of their legislative frameworks, access and availability of abortion, abortion-related medical care and available public information on abortion.

Croatia is in the lower part of the ranking, with a score of 60%, and it belongs among countries with a poor rating concerning legal and safe abortion. Of the EU member-countries, the best-ranked are Sweden and the Netherlands while Malta and Poland are worst-ranked.

"Access to abortion in the EU has been prevented due to a number of administrative and imposed medical obstacles and conditions such as compulsory counselling, compulsory additional medical tests and a compulsory waiting period," said Matić, a member of the EP's Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee and author of an EP resolution on the state of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU.

The obstacles are unjustified and most citizens advocate access to abortion, Matić said, citing the latest survey on the topic in Croatia, in which 81% of the respondents supported the right to abortion while as many as 63% said that pregnancy termination must be free of charge, which makes abortion truly available regardless of one's geographical and socioeconomic status, Matić's office said.

Matić also recalled an extremely dangerous trend among gynecologists in Croatia, with 186 or 60% of the 322 gynecologists employed in hospitals across the country refusing to perform abortion.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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