A new bill tightening abortion laws could split the Italian government’s ruling coalition, Bloomberg News reports.
Sandro Bondi, a member of former Prime Minister Silvio Berluscioni’s Forza Italia party, has called for a law to ban abortions after the 90th day of pregnancy. Italy legalized abortion in 1978. Abortions are currently allowed after the 90th day only when the mother’s life is in danger.
The present nine-party coalition, which enables Prime Minister Romano Prodi to rule, includes the pro-abortion Radical Party and the Communists. However, conservative Catholics across party lines are increasingly supporting the proposal, which would also review the parts of the law that pertain to advanced pregnancies.
High-ranking clergy voiced their views of the proposal. Cardinal Camillo Ruini said re-opening the abortion debate would be a “very logical step” in light of the recent United Nations vote on a moratorium on the death penalty. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, present head of the Italian bishops’ conference, expressed his hope that the existing law would be revised.
“Bondi’s motion is a great step toward justice,” Senator Paola Binetti, a member of the largest party in the ruling coalition, said Friday. Senator Binetti, a celibate member of Opus Dei, almost caused the government to fall in December. She opposed Prime Minster Prodi’s bill to criminalize discrimination based on “sexual preferences,” which would have made the offense punishable by a prison sentence.