Global Doctors for Choice wrote to the Colegio de Médicos y Cirujanos de Costa Rica and urged them to reconsider the language included in their recent “Official Declaration about Abortion” as this declaration does not follow medical or scientific evidence.
We emphasized the difference between conscientious objection – a privilege that should be handled responsibly and that cannot intrude on others’ basic rights – and obstruction of care – an unethical and illegal practice.
We also highlighted that conscientious objection has limits: objecting doctors must provide patients with scientifically accurate information, make referrals to willing and available alternative doctors, and provide the contested service if no one else can do it or if the patient is in an emergency.
Additionally, only individuals involved in direct healthcare provision (e.g., not those involved with follow-up care, making the appointment, ordering supplies, etc.) can conscientiously object.
Finally, we outlined the circumstances in which conscientious objection may not be invoked:
a) in case of need for abortion because of life threatening pregnancy associated complications;
b) in any legally permissible abortion situation, in the absence of another physician doing so and when the woman can suffer damage or health problems due to the doctor’s omission; and
c) in the attendance of complications derived from unsafe abortion.
We also shared this letter with the Ombudsman’s Office, the national institution responsible for monitoring legality and human rights.