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The Impact of Gynecologists' Conscientious Objection on Access to Abortion in Italy

Tommaso Autorino, Francesco Mattioli and Letizia Mencarini ()

No 119, Working Papers from "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi

Abstract: Abortion in Italy is free of charge and legal in a broad set of circumstances, but 71% of gynecologists refuse to perform abortions for reasons of conscientious objection. We assess whether the diverse prevalence of conscientious objection across Italian regions is linked to the inter-regional mobility of women seeking an abortion and to differences in terms of waiting time preceding the operation. Focusing on the period between 2002 and 2016, we perform a panel data analysis at the regional level, showing that a higher prevalence of objecting professionals is associated to a higher share of women having an abortion outside the region and to longer waiting times. Furthermore, using microdata on over one million abortions recorded in Italy in the same period, we find that conscientious objection is a significant driver of the individual decision of having an abortion out of the region of residence. All the models account for economic and demographic characteristics of regions, and for other possible determinants of inter-regional mobility. Overall, results suggest that conscientious objection can limit access to abortion at the local level.

Pages: 38 pages
Date: 2018-06
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