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Initiative on doctors’ right to refuse to perform abortion goes to parliament

A citizens’ initiative calling for healthcare workers to be given the right to refuse to perform abortions has passed the 50,000 barrier for consideration by parliament. That is no guarantee that it will be considered, however—none of the other initiatives to pass the threshold have so far been passed by parliament.

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Image: Yle, Augustina Jämsä

Healthcare workers should have the right to refuse to perform some abortions, according to a citizens’ initiative that now has the support of more than 50,000 people. On 18 November the citizens’ initiative had the support of some 52,000 people, with just fewer than 25,000 of them signing the petition online.

The draft bill would allow doctors and nurses to refuse to terminate pregnancies on ethical or religious grounds. According to the text, medical workers would be allowed to refuse to perform abortions when the woman’s life is not in danger.

The initiative’s authors cite the existence of similar rights in other European countries.

Any citizens’ initiative that gathers more than 50,000 signatures has to be considered by parliament. So far six citizens’ initiatives have passed that threshold but all have failed to become law.

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