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'Proposal wouldn't change a thing'

As a gynaecologist, Miloslav Ostrihoň applied the objection of conscience law. He now heads a hospital in Dolný Kubín, and he leaves the decision of whether or not to perform abortions to the doctors.
He says that once a woman decides to undergo an abortion, she will find a hospital for the procedure.

As a gynaecologist, Miloslav Ostrihoň applied the objection of conscience law. He now heads a hospital in Dolný Kubín, and he leaves the decision of whether or not to perform abortions to the doctors.

He says that once a woman decides to undergo an abortion, she will find a hospital for the procedure.


Sme: What do you think about the change proposed by the Health Ministry that intends to repeal the objection of conscience?

Miloslav Ostrihoň (MO): The objection of conscience was introduced without legislative support by the KDH health minister Alojz Rakús, and we accepted it in our hospital. It began with abortions but went further. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses do not want to work on Saturdays, or Muslims do not eat pork. We have tolerated it since 1992. And even if they abolish it, it will neither harm us nor help us.


Sme: But how could the objection be applied in the future?

MO: We had no problem applying it, even when it was not enshrined in the law. And even if it was abolished, it would only matter for Slovakia because it would show how liberal the country is.


Sme: Do you have many doctors in your hospital who apply the objection of conscience?

MO: It is hard to say. It is an unwritten rule. I do not look for it, I do not investigate it. I let it happen, because since 1992, there has been no problem with the functioning of medical procedures.


Sme: What should doctors do if they have problems with abortions?

MO: In most cases, they reach an agreement with the head of their department. It depends on the nature of the department.


Sme: And what if it is not possible to reach an agreement? Can a doctor's performance be influenced by the fact that he or she performs a procedure against their will?

MO: Certainly. Then it is not a natural act, and it results in inner trauma. It is definitely not a good way to do it. However, I think that this profession is based on people with a university education, so even when they choose their profession, everyone should consider whether there will be an objection of conscience, and orient his or her life according to this.


Sme: And does it work like this? Do you know such doctors?

MO: Yes, I know many doctors who did it like this, even before 1989 when the law was not in effect. They got around their objections by swapping one specialisation for another where it did not obstruct them.


Sme: Do you apply the objection of conscience?

MO: I did. Today, as the head of a hospital, I do not practise my specialisation any more.


(Daily Sme; August 23, 2007)

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