Whose Self-Determination? Barriers to Access to Emergency Hormonal Contraception in Italy

The Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 23(2), 2013: 139-67.

33 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2013

See all articles by Emanuela Ceva

Emanuela Ceva

University of Pavia, Department of Political and Social Sciences

Sofia Moratti

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW)

Date Written: June 2, 2013

Abstract

In Italy, Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC) is a prescription drug, available only in pharmacies. Evidence suggests that a number of doctors and pharmacists refuse to provide EHC, on grounds of conscience, although the exact frequency of this phenomenon is unknown. This creates a barrier to access to EHC for women, thus risking undermining their right to reproductive self-determination. In this article, we aim to offer a clearer empirical and theoretical understanding of the situation and to assess the force of doctors’ and pharmacists’ claims against providing EHC. Unlike standard discussions of the issue, we argue that the category of conscientious objection is not the most appropriate one for making sense of these claims, because they are not grounded in a conflict between two contrasting moral duties. The seemingly forced choice between protecting doctors’ and pharmacists’ professional self-determination and women’s reproductive self-determination could be prevented by distributing EHC without medical prescription and in a number of outlets (including supermarkets), thus relieving doctors and pharmacists from the legal duty to provide it.

Keywords: Emergency Hormonal Contraception, Self-determination, Conscientious Objection

Suggested Citation

Ceva, Emanuela and Moratti, Sofia, Whose Self-Determination? Barriers to Access to Emergency Hormonal Contraception in Italy (June 2, 2013). The Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 23(2), 2013: 139-67., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2354462

Emanuela Ceva (Contact Author)

University of Pavia, Department of Political and Social Sciences ( email )

Corso Strada Nuova, 65
27100 Pavia, 27100
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://www-3.unipv.it/webdsps/en/docente.php?id=ceva

Sofia Moratti

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

Via Bolognese 156 (Villa Salviati)
50-139 Firenze
ITALY

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