February 13, 2012 ( – Experts working for the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics at the University of Barcelona, Spain, are calling for a national registry of doctors who will not perform abortions, in order to “improve” women’s access to “pregnancy termination.”

Speaking to the press, the Chair’s director, Maria Casado, also expressed opposition to restrictions to abortion in Spanish law proposed by the new government headed by Mariano Rajoy, and called for a more stringent definition of conscientious objection for doctors.

The statements were made during a university seminar on “Abortion and conscientious objection” held by the UNESCO Chair in Barcelona last week, attended by university members, lawyers and doctors specialized in “contraception and sexuality.”


Spanish pro-life doctors have vigorously opposed plans to establish regional registries of conscientious objectors, let alone a national and public registry as called for during the Barcelona seminar. Doctors and the pro-life movement in Spain fear that such a measure would lead to black-listing and could ultimately provoke ideological persecution.

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Casado said that while she upholds doctors’ rights to conscientious objection, the main idea is to “respect rights in a democratic society” – women’s rights as well as doctors’ rights. This means conscientious objection should have a clear framework: doctors should make their position known before entering an operating theater, she said, and should not be allowed to exert their right when “the woman’s health is in danger.”

“When conscientious objection is transformed into a collective stance for ideological reasons, it turns into civil disobedience,” she argued, naming the “Catholic Church” as responsible insofar as it promotes conscientious objection to abortion.

The UNESCO Chair Seminar was sponsored by the Catalan autonomous government (“Generalitat”), the Observatory of Bioethics and Law (also presided by Maria Casado), and several feminist and pro-contraception organizations.

The UNESCO Chair of Bioethics at the University of Barcelona aims to promote “Human Rights” and a “multidisciplinary, secular and flexible” conception of bioethics in Spain and in developing countries, specially in Latin America, as claimed on its website. It also aims to form men and women who will be called to sit on bioethics committees in these countries.