Why this story matters:
The main obstacle to women's access to free and safe abortions has always been the Catholic Church -- both in Europe and beyond.
This week, the Argentinian Congress discusses legalizing abortion, and the local Church is relentless in its attempts to prevent it. In Poland, an extreme-right Catholic lobby is once again pressuring the government to further tighten abortion law.
In Italy, the Church is continuously trying to undermine what women consider to be their greatest legal achievement of the 70s -- the 1978 law legalizing abortion.
Italy's situation, however, has much to teach us.
Data shows that, since the introduction of the bill, voluntary abortion in Italy has steadily decreased and has never become a means of birth control.
Yet this seems to escape the champions of the "no choice" movement. They fail to grasp that the only alternatives to a free and safe abortion are forced pregnancy or clandestine abortion.
Details from the story:
- In Argentina, the Congress is discussing a bill decriminalizing abortion created by the "Campaign for the right to legal, safe and free abortion". It permits the procedure in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
- Currently, the country only allows abortion when the pregnancy results from rape or if it poses risk to the mother's life. Every year, 49,000 women are hospitalized due to complications after illegal abortions.
- In Italy, we will soon celebrate the 40th anniversary of a law legalizing abortion, which was enforced in May 1978.
- According to a December 2017 report of the Ministry of Health, 84,926 voluntary terminations of pregnancy were carried out in 2016. The figures are down by 3.1% compared to 2015 and by 63.8% in comparison with 1982 -- the year with the highest number of voluntary abortions in Italy (234,801 cases).
- However, the percentage of the so-called "conscientious objections" remains very high. In 2016, 70.9%, gynecologists, 48.8% anesthetists and 44% of non-medical personnel refused to participate in abortions.