The Vatican daily, Osservatore Romano, has published a scathing editorial, condemning a double abortion performed in a Milan hospital.
The incident happened at the San Paolo Hospital earlier this summer but only emerged over the weekend in newspapers. A woman, carrying twins, decided to have one of her babies aborted after learning that it would have Down’s syndrome.
Doctors mistakenly aborted the healthy baby instead. After the mistake was discovered, the 38-year-old woman returned to the hospital and aborted the surviving fetus. She later went to police to report the doctors.
Doctors at the hospital said the two babies appeared to have changed positions in the mother's womb after the medical scan. Milan’s prosecutor's office has opened a file on the case, although no crime is suspected at present.
"It is the culture of perfection which forces people to exclude anything which does not appear beautiful, splendid and positive," read the Osservatore Romano editorial. "Nobody has the right to suppress another life. Nobody has the right to take the place of God. And yet the innocent continue to die".
One Catholic senator said the mistake was made possible by laws which allow the "selection" of embryos.
"I think that, after 30 years, it's time to look again at the abortion law," said Sen. Paola Binetti, a member of the national bioethics committee.
Meanwhile, pro-abortion MPs expressed horror over the "tragedy" but defended the 1978 law, which allows abortions up to 90 days from conception and afterwards if the fetus is malformed.
Health Minister Livia Turco described the double abortion as a case of "very serious human error" but defended the existing laws were "very wise". She noted the reduced number of abortions in Italy over the last 25 years.