A serious social problem arises on the island of Samos after the decision of the anesthesiologists working at the only public General Hospital “Agios Panteleimon” to refrain from participation in the legal interruption of pregnancy. While it is not clear, how many anesthesiologists work at the hospital, the decision falls like a bombshell in a country where abortions are legal since 1984.
In a letter to the hospital administration, the anesthesiologists of the hospital says that they will not use give anesthesia for case of pregnancy termination unless there are medical reasons that put the life of the pregnant woman at risk.” The doctors reportedly cite “ethical reasons.”
Although the news has been reproduced by several media and news websites, it is not clear how many anesthesiologists work in the hospital and the exact reasons for their decision.
The decisions falls like a bombshell in a country where abortion has been legalized since 1984.
Abortions can be performed on-demand in hospitals for women whose pregnancies have not exceeded twelve weeks. In the case of rape or incest, an abortion can occur as late as nineteen weeks, and as late as twenty-four weeks in the case of fetal abnormalities. Girls under the age of 18 must get written permission from a parent or guardian before being allowed an abortion.
Abortions are carried out in the hospital with the consent of the pregnant woman or the parents in the case of a minor.
With their decision the doctors concerned have decided to refrain from taking part in legal procedures.
The anesthesiologists reportedly refer to Article 31 of Law 3418/2005 (Code of Medical Ethics) which states that “the physician may invoke the rules and principles of his moral conscience and refuse to perform or join a pregnancy termination unless there is an inherent risk to the pregnant woman’s life or the risk of serious and permanent damage to her health. “
According to local media samostimes.gr, there are 10 to 15 cases of pregnancy interruption every year in the general hospital of the island.
Abortions performed in hospitals and under anesthesia ensure the protection of the health of a woman who has decided to terminate a pregnancy for whatever reasons.
The doctors’ decision exempt cases where the life of a pregnant woman is at risk as such cases do not violate their “ethical issues”.
The administration of the public hospital does not reportedly have the right to force anesthesiologists and obstetricians to take part in artificial pregnancy termination.
The decision creates a social problem as women who wish to terminate pregnancy for other reasons will have then to travel to other islands or even to Athens.
Abortions in private practices is prohibited.
According to state ERA radio report that first published the decision, the real reasons that triggered the anesthesiologists decisions are not known.
I am really curious how many anesthesiologists work in the general hospital of Samos that serves also residents of other islands. In 2013, there was only one!
According to Vice.gr, the number of anesthesiologists is 3 and there are all women. The director described the decision as ‘outdated’ and added that the hospital is obliged by law to perform abortions. He added that they were practically informed about the decision on the last minute and had no time to seek alternative solutions.
The anesthesiologists refuse to talk to media.
In this sense, a doctor in a Greek public hospital may refuse a blood transfusion or an organ transplantation if it is against his ethical beliefs?
PS Are we putting our laws under anesthesia? Are we slipping back to the Middle Ages or are these anesthesiologist(s) members of some religious sect?