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Women Help Women
“Abandoned” – New film shares heartbreaking stories of women denied legal abortion
September 30, 2018 – For immediate release
Abandoned is the first-ever film to tell the heartbreaking stories of women who have died or suffered terribly after being denied a legal abortion. This happens because some doctors refuse to provide health care when it conflicts with their personal or religious beliefs, citing a “conscientious objection”.
“I was deeply affected by the horrific tragedies these women and their families endured, all because so-called ‘pro-life’ doctors had abandoned them or lied to them,” said filmmaker Patricia Marchart. “It took a lot of courage for these people to speak publicly about their painful experiences. I’m so honoured and grateful that they chose to trust me.” Marchart interviewed several women who were refused abortion and members of their families, as well as lawyers, politicians, activists, and other experts in the reproductive health care community. The film helps shed light on the modern phenomenon of doctors refusing medical treatment to women with unwanted pregnancies, based on their personal beliefs and citing so-called “conscientious objection.”
“Refusing care to patients under the misleading guise of ‘conscience’ creates a real risk that patients may suffer or even die,” said Joyce Arthur, co-creator of the film. “These harms are being inflicted on patients by medical professionals, despite their duty to protect their patients’ health and lives.”
Dr. Christian Fiala, a gynecologist from Vienna, is the producer of Abandoned. “Normally, doctors don’t have the right to refuse a medical treatment for personal reasons, but when it comes to unwanted pregnancies, this is widely tolerated,” said Dr. Fiala. “Some women even die after being refused abortion, and our film shows that laws that allow abortion to save a woman’s life don’t help. That’s because the only way to be certain that a woman’s life is in danger is to wait until she dies.”
Along with Dr. Fiala, Arthur created the website www.conscientious-objection.info to document the stories of dozens of women who were refused a legal abortion for reasons of “conscience” and suffered serious injury or injustice as a result, including the women featured in Abandoned. “We only hear media coverage about the bad consequences of treatment refusals under so-called ‘conscientious objection’ when a woman dies, or when a woman or her family sues,” said Arthur. “But women are very frequently refused reproductive health care and their stories are mostly unknown. We felt it was crucial to publicize some of the most shocking examples by letting those involved speak for themselves.”