INTRODUCTION: Italy's Lower House, the Chamber of Deputies has paved the way for abortion reform.?
INTRODUCTION: Italy's Lower House, the Chamber of Deputies has paved the way for abortion reform. On Wednesday (19 January) the deputies passed the first stage of a draft law legalising abortion. The day before the deputies threw out a motion by the Vatican-backed Christian Democrat party to stop the law.
SYNOPSIS: While the house was meeting, feminist demonstrators called for an even greater relaxation of the laws on abortion, than the bill allows for. The bill allows the voluntary termination of pregnancies to women above 16 years of age for health, economic, social or family reasons. The abortion issue has torn Italians and their politics for years. Abortions are illegal under legislation introduced by Italy's fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, to "protect the race". A constitutional court ruling two years ago allowed termination of pregnancies on physical or mental health grounds.
Many Italian women have been actively campaigning for years to have the right to choose to have an abortion. The Christian Democrats were expected to challenge every one of the 23 articles in the draft bill. The Chamber's justice and health commissions worked out the bill based on eight different abortion reforms tabled by various parties.
The Christian Democrats argued that the bill contained many contradictions. The Catholic Church led a passionate campaign against the legalisation of abortion. Pope Paul himself devoted long passages of both his Christmas and New Year Peace message to the issue.