Conscientious objection in medicine: psychological consequences in women who face legal termination of pregnancy in the Region of Murcia

Conscientious objection in medicine: psychological consequences in women who face legal termination of pregnancy in the Region of Murcia

Vera Constán, Fátima (1,2); Rivas Molina, Ana (1)

(1) Asociación de Psicología Perinatal Murcia; (2) Universidad de Murcia

Background
Perinatal loss is a stressful situation in women’s life (and their families). Furthermore, losses due to legal termination by medical criteria carry several traumatic moments hard to recover from without professional support. Periodic meetings with women who join the group “Apoyo a Familias en Duelo Gestacional y Neonatal (Murcia)” offered an opportunity to observe some behavior associated to symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in most of these participants. The aim of this study is to explore these symptoms in relation to the medical care received during the pregnancy termination and other personal and pregnancy variables of interest.

Methodology
An ad-hoc questionnaire collected information about characteristics of the loss and the evaluation of the medical received care (Likert scale). In addition, the PCL-6 was used to measure possible symptomatology associated with PTSD.

Results
Broadly, receiving the news of having to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy and the process itself is a highly traumatic situation (high PCL-6 scores). Higher PCL-6 scores correlate negatively with Medical Care Satisfaction results. This situation magnifies by the poor clinics’ conditions where these cases are derived (outside the Region of Murcia because is a region with medical conscientious objection). Women from Murcia Region showed worst care perception (Medical Care Satisfaction). The results are also discussed according to other variables related to the abortion.

Conclusions
Healthcare must assist not only the pregnancy period until the approval notification of the termination, but also the process itself and its recovery (ideally including psychological assistance).

Ethics statement:
The voluntary participation of mothers attending the activities of the association “Psicología Perinatal Murcia” was requested, informing them of their anonymity and the use of data for scientific dissemination purposes.

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