Italy slowly tightens abortion options


Southern Europe


Photo AFP, Alberto Pizzoli

Italy is making it more difficult for women to have an abortion. Regional authorities are increasingly funding and giving space to anti-abortion organisations. A process that has been going on for years.

“Without any publicised legislative change, without any loud political battle, the Italian population is gradually showing its opposition to a practice that generates a lot of anguish and, of course, contradicts the values of this country, rich in the Catholic tradition”, writes the European Conservative.

The movement is especially taking place on a regional scale since Italian health care is the responsibility of the regions, not the central government in Rome.

According to Politico, these regional authorities are increasingly funding and giving space to anti-abortion organisations in hospitals and family-planning clinics. Some local governments have even offered cash incentives to women who abandon plans to have an abortion.


The number of abortions in Italy is shrinking. According to the news portal Luce, there were over 73,000 voluntary terminations of pregnancy in 2019. In 1983, that number was 236,000.

And it is not only political pressure that brings down the number of abortions. Medical opposition is also part of the reason. Health professionals have the right to object to abortion. If they do not want to cooperate, they do not have to do it. In large parts of Italy, most healthcare workers oppose these practices. In some regions, the number of conscientious objectors exceeds 90 per cent, writes Eco Internationale.


Besides political and medical reasons, religion also plays a role in the decline of abortions. On Saturday, May 21st, tens of thousands of people took part in Italy’s national March for Life in Rome. Pope Francis thanked the participants the day after for their “commitment in favour of life and in defence of conscientious objection”. Earlier, Pope Francis warned Italy for its low fertility rate—one of the lowest in Europe. He warned of a “demographic winter”.

According to the European Conservative, because of the symbolic legacy of Fascism and the pro-large family discourse of Mussolini’s regime, Italian political parties, including those on the Right, are reluctant to promote an ambitious family policy to encourage births, and the subject is hotly debated in the Italian Parliament. The fight against abortion is therefore presented as a political alternative to family policy.



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