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October 14, 2018

Italian women to march against ‘pro-life’ city council


October 14, 2018

VERONA: Women’s rights groups were set to march in protest in the northern Italian city of Verona later Saturday, after the local council passed a motion to fund Catholic anti-abortion groups.

The motion, proposed by a member of the far-right League party, declared the city “pro-life”. Under the scheme, pregnant women will be encouraged to give up unplanned babies for adoption.

The women marching in Saturday’s protest will call for “safe and free” abortions on demand.

But the vote came just days before Pope Francis compared having an abortion to hiring a contract killer.

Right-wing mayor Federico Sboarina dismissed the row, saying the motion is “not anti-anything, but pro- : pro-life and the freedom of women”.

The measures would help women to “overcome the reasons, which can also be economic, which might lead them to terminate a pregnancy,” he said.

Italy’s Family Minister Lorenzo Fontana, a League member himself, also backed the new measure. It did nothing more than apply the existing law, “helping a woman choose, so she can carry her baby to term”, he argued.

Forty years on, the law legalising abortion in Italy remains highly controversial, largely due to the sway of the powerful Catholic church.

Under the 1978 law, women can have abortions within the 90th day of their pregnancy, or within the 5th month for “therapeutic abortions”, induced if medically necessary.

Verona’s new position is held up by critics as a symptom of a wider problem: the Roman Catholic church’s influence on the country’s health system, both in terms of its care structures and the training of doctors.

“We have an increasing number of hospitals that open their doors thanks to the financial support of the Vatican, while public hospitals have ever fewer resources,” gynaecologist and pro-abortion activist Elisabetta Canitano told AFP. Private hospitals, especially ones funded by the church, can refuse to perform abortions.

She points to the Mater Olbia Hospital, a brand new facility located in Sardinia and owned by Qatar, and Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, which is run by the Vatican. The Gemelli University Hospital Centre is also home to one of the most renowned medical schools in Italy.

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