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.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

HZZO to Cover Cost of Pregnancy Termination in Slovenia for Mirela Čavajda

ZAGREB, 18 May 2022 - The Croatian Health Insurance Agency (HZZO) will cover the cost of pregnancy termination for Mirela Čavajda in a hospital in Ljubljana.

The HZZO said this in a statement issued after earlier in the day the Jutarnji List daily reported that Čavajda would most probably not have the cost of her pregnancy termination abroad covered by the HZZO.

Čavajda is a woman six months into her pregnancy who who could not have her pregnancy terminated in Croatia despite the fetus's serious malformations.

Jutarnji List says is has learned from unofficial sources that Croatian doctors, even though they refuse to perform the procedure guaranteed by law, are also unwilling to put their refusal down in writing, and that hospitals have sent the HZZO notifications saying that Čavajda has been offered the necessary medical procedure - induced labour.

"Since she does not want that procedure but insists on pregnancy termination, the HZZO considers this to be a refusal of the medical service offered in Croatia, which makes it questionable if there are legal grounds for the HZZO to cover the cost of the medical service she will seek in Slovenia", the daily says.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 16 May 2022

Ministry: Procedural Omissions at Two Hospitals in Čavajda Case

ZAGREB, 16 May 2022 - The Ministry of Health said on Monday that a health inspection had been completed, with regard to the case of pregnant patient Mirela Čavajda, at the KB Sveti Duh Hospital and the Sisters of Charity Hospital in Zagreb and that procedural omissions had been established.

A health inspection by the Health Ministry was conducted at the KB Sveti Duh Hospital, the Sisters of Charity Hospital, and the KB Merkur Hospital. After the entire documentation was reviewed and talks were conducted with the employees of the hospitals, it was established there were procedural omissions at the KB Sveti Duh and Sisters of Mercy hospitals, and the health inspectorate will take further measures, the ministry said in a press release.

It was determined that the patient was provided with all available healthcare in accordance with the profession and legal provisions in Croatia.

Inspection also at private healthcare facility that provided pregnancy care

In order to establish all relevant facts in this complex case, the health inspectorate decided it was also necessary to conduct an inspection at the private healthcare facility where the patient was provided with health services during her pregnancy.

With regard to the irregularities at the KB Sveti Duh Hospital, non-compliance with the legal procedure of the first-instance commission was established, which was subsequently corrected and sent to a second-instance commission at the KBC Zagreb Hospital. At the Sisters of Charity Hospital, which the patient contacted via her attorney, upon making the first-instance decision, there was a failure to inform the patient of her right to contact the KBC Zagreb Hospital as a second-instance body.

For more, check out our politics 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

Hundreds Protest In Zagreb For Pregnancy Termination To Be Available

ZAGREB, 12 May 2022 - Hundreds of citizens, mostly women, rallied in Zagreb's main square on Thursday to protest against the "destruction of public health and neglecting women's health," and to demand that legal, available and safe pregnancy termination be guaranteed.

Protesters carried banners which read "A woman is not an incubator", "Mistress of my own body", "A woman's toughest decision is not yours", "No more denying medical procedures", "No more clericalism in gynecology clinics", "No more women-hating gynecologists" and "No more unavailable health".

The protest was held in solidarity with Mirela Čavajda, whom a Zagreb hospital's second-instance commission allowed to terminate her pregnancy for medical reasons only after she went public with her case.

It was organised by several NGOs which demand that the government and the Health Ministry make sure that pregnancy termination is available in public health.

According to a survey by the gender equality ombudsman, 59% of Croatian doctors are conscientious objectors.

The NGOs demand the urgent adoption of protocols that will guarantee the availability of pregnancy termination and the publication of the names of doctors who are conscientious objectors as well as information on which hospitals in Croatia perform the procedure.

The demands have been signed by more than 100 civil society organisations.

Deputy Prime Minister Anja Šimpraga attended the protest, telling the press that she came first of all as a woman, but also as a politician who wanted to take responsibility so that everyone in society would act responsibly and apply the law.

The 1978 abortion law which is in force is not the most liberal one nor the most rigid, but it should be updated so that cases like Čavajda's do not happen again, she said, adding that the premier and the ministers have said a lot on this issue. "Therefore, let us do our part."

Asked if the incumbent government, too, was responsible for the fact that hospitals do not provide the services they should, Šimpraga did not say, adding that it is necessary to insist on making healthcare equally available in Zagreb and undeveloped parts of the country. "And we will work on that."


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.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Croatian Medical Law Association Comments on Čavajda Case

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.

For more, check out our politics and lifestyle sections.

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.