Catalonia: Register of conscientious objectors in medical care

Country: Spain

Date of incident: June 11, 2024

On June 11, the Government of Catalonia approved the creation of a register of health professionals who object to performing or assisting in abortions for reasons of conscience. According to the official statement, the register will be administrative and electronic, and not public. However, the management of health centres which provide abortion services will be able to access these records. Such a register is feared to lead to situations of discrimination on religious grounds in employment and indirectly violate the right to freedom of conscience of health personnel.

The Spanish organisation FEREDE had already warned about the risks of such a "list of conscientious objectors" would have on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Freedom (OIDAC reported). The rate of conscientious objection varies between 46% and 48%, reaching even up to 96% in rural areas. There had already been a law in 2010 (OIDAC reported) prohibiting institutional objections.

The purpose of the register is "to provide the competent units with information on the number of objectors, in order to manage the correct public provision with criteria of equality, equity and quality of care.” The declaration with the register could be added, modified or revoked at any time, and no reason was required for the objection.

The coordinator of the Sexual and Reproductive Rights Association, Sílvia Aldavert: “We began to investigate and request information from the Department of Health. A couple of years ago, we managed to get the Department to start collecting data on conscientious objectors, which were not collected before. Hospitals like Sant Pau or Sant Joan de Déu, involved in consortia with the Catholic Church, do not want to perform abortions despite receiving public funding. This registry should have been created many years ago, but we hope that it will now contribute to improving health planning and women's access to abortion services. It is vital that the registry helps to ensure that there is always a professional available to perform abortions and that the work of professionals who do can be respected.”

The new reforms to abortion laws in Spain, upheld by the Constitutional Court, not only include the list of such objectors but also other alarming provisions such as abortion for teenage girls without parental consent.


Sources: Wiley, Diari di Barcelona,, ara, Segre, La Republica, X

Image: Pixabay (symbolic image)