Thousands of women marched in the streets of Rome on Friday (10 June) to protest at the defeat of a bill to legalise abortion in Italy.
Thousands of women marched in the streets of Rome on Friday (10 June) to protest at the defeat of a bill to legalise abortion in Italy. In a shock vote, the Italian Senate blocked the Abortion Bill by a majority of two on a procedural motion.
SYNOPSIS: The march was organised by the left-wing Union of Italian Women. Representatives of other women's and feminists' organisations also took part. The bill would have give Italian women the right to have abortions virtually on demand within the first three months of pregnancy. Under existing laws they risk up to five years' jail. Despite the penalties, which are only applied rarely now, an estimated one million clandestine abortions are carried out each year. That's one for every live baby born. There are also penalties for those who do the abortions. There are now seems to be two alternatives -- to re-present the bill, although it can't be discussed for another six months, or to hold a referendum.
The pro-abortionists are in favour of a referendum because, according to public opinion polls, a large majority would vote in favour of legalising abortion. The Vatican newspaper has hailed the bill's defeat as a "Vote for life". The paper said the outcome of the Senate debate showed that Italians should stop talking and actually do something about clandestine abortions. The defeat came as a serious blow for the left-wing parties.