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Italian politicians promote more restrictive abortion laws in election campaign
Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi
Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi

.- Italy’s election campaign features a call for a moratorium on abortion and a prominent journalist announcing his pro-life parliamentary candidacy, the International Herald-Tribune reports.

In the race for the country’s top leadership position, front-runner and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi told the weekly magazine Tempi that the United Nations should recognize the right to life from “conception until natural death.”  Berlusconi stressed that members of his center-right coalition could decide on the issue according to their own conscience.

In mid-December, prominent conservative journalist Giuliano Ferrara proposed a universal moratorium on abortion, which drew the support of Catholic officials such as Cardinal Camillo Ruini, papal vicar for Rome.

Ferrara, in his magazine Il Foglio, called abortion the “supreme scandal of our time.”  He proposed the moratorium a day after the United Nations General Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution, advocated by Italy, that called for a moratorium on the death penalty.  Ferrara reasoned that a similar moratorium on abortion was necessary because millions of innocents were killed by abortion each year.

On Tuesday, Ferrara announced his candidacy for parliament on a pro-life platform.  He said he did not know if Berlusconi, whom Ferrara once served as minister, would accept him in a center-right coalition.

"The center-right would be the natural place for a list like this," Ferrara told Corriere della Sera, but he explained he would be prepared to run alone for office because of his strong pro-life beliefs.

When Tempi magazine asked Berlusconi about Ferrara’s proposal, he replied, "I think that recognizing the right to life from conception to natural death is a principle that the U.N. could make its own, just as it did with the moratorium on the death penalty."

Center-left political leaders have opposed Ferrara’s proposal for changes to existing abortion law.

Abortion has been legal for the first three months of a pregnancy in state hospitals in Italy since 1978.  After more than three months into a pregnancy, abortion is legal only when the pregnancy is a “grave danger” to a mother’s life.

A 1981 referendum attempted to overturn the law, but Italian voters upheld the abortion license.  

In 2004 136,715 women had abortions, compared with 234,801 in 1982.  Italy has about 58 million people.


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