Anti-abortion activitsts will now be able to enter abortion clinics.

New measures allow anti-abortion activists to enter abortion clinics


Italian opposition parties decried a decision by Giorgia Meloni’s far-right government, characterising it as a detrimental blow to women’s rights in Italy. The measure, allowing anti-abortion activists access to abortion consultation clinics, passed as part of a package of initiatives endorsed by Meloni’s cabinet.

The measures form part of a package slated for funding by the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund. The measure faced a confidence vote in the lower house on Tuesday. It is expected to pass comfortably in the senate as well.

Italy, a traditionally Catholic country, legalised abortion in 1978 under Law 194. Despite Meloni’s assurance not to alter the law, obtaining safe abortions has become increasingly challenging due to a significant number of gynaecologists refusing to perform the procedure for moral or religious reasons. Health ministry data from 2021 reveals that approximately 63% of gynaecologists decline to carry out abortions.

Deputy Prime Minister Antonio Tajani said that while the government doesn’t intend to amend the law, individuals opposed to abortion should not be stigmatised. He underscored the importance of upholding freedom of conscience on such matters saying, ““We have always allowed freedom of conscience on issues of this kind. I believe it is right for everyone to behave according to their own beliefs and conscience.”

Some right-wing-led regions already allocate funds to support pressure groups infiltrating consultation clinics. This is where women seek certification for pregnancy termination. Some regions, including Marche, under the leadership of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, have additionally restricted access to the abortion pill. In 2022, a right-wing councillor in Piedmont proposed paying women not to have an abortion.

A backward step by right-wing government

The opposition parties and women’s rights activists have condemned the measure.

Elly Schlein, leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), said it is a “heavy attack against the liberty of women”. Her sentiments echo those of Silvia Roggiani, a PD deputy, who said, “The right wing continues to display its nostalgic nature and obscurantist and patriarchal vision by trying, in every way, to erode women’s rights. It’s shameful.”

Deputies from the Five Star Movement lamented that Italy has “chosen to take a further steps backwards”.

Luisa Rizzitelli, a women’s rights activist and coordinator for One Billion Rising in Italy, expressed concern over the measure.  “This measure might seem like a small thing, but symbolically it is very strong and serious – the government is giving a clear sign in that they want to do everything possible to persuade women to change their minds. This shouldn’t be happening.”

Prior to the vote, Jacopo Coghe, spokesperson for Pro Vita, Italy’s largest anti-abortion organisation, stated that the group did not intend to enter abortion consultation clinics. However, he asserted that the clinics should “return to their original function of helping women find concrete alternatives to abortion”.

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