Italian Senator to propose drop in federal funding of abortion

.- An Italian senator announced last weekend he intends to sponsor a bill that would require women to pay half of the costs of a second abortion and all costs of any subsequent ones.

Antonio Gentile, a senator of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, said, “It is unacceptable that so many children are dying in the wombs of their mothers.”

Girolamo Sirchia, Minister of Health, said he could consider the proposal, arguing that the 1978 law on abortion should be reviewed in order “to evaluate the positive and negative aspects.”

“I don’t know any details about the proposal but I appreciate the motives behind it.  We must avoid thinking about abortion as a form of contraception,” he said on the Sky Italia television network.

Current Italian legislation provides federal funding for abortion during the first trimester.  Funding is also provided for any cases requiring emergency intervention, even beyond the 90 days.

According to the latest statistics, there were 130,000 abortions in Italy in 2002.  The highest abortion rate was in 1982, reaching 235,000.

“Women’s rights” groups, opposition leaders and some government officials have vowed to oppose the measure.  They argue the current abortion law not only guarantees the right to choose but also protects women’s privacy, so that no one can know who has had an abortion and how many.

“I think this idea of charging women is absolute nonsense, it’s scandalous,” said Stefania Prestigiacomo, Minister of Equal Opportunity.  “If they decide to go forward with this, they have to deal with us,” she told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

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