Abortion in Italy was legalized in 1974. It was the result of a power struggle for safe abortion between the women’s movement, conservative forces and the Vatican. The text of the Law (N 194) seems liberal and quite progressive but in reality, the feminist victory was not enough to ensure women’s access to care.
Activists have been fighting for a long time to make sure women and girls in Italy have access to safe, dignified, and timely abortion care.
At the moment, women who access medical abortion in Italy are forced to be admitted in the hospital for three days, following outdated national guidelines.
On June 21, 7000 grassroots activists gathered in Perugia to ask for the respect of sexual and reproductive rights for all in Italy.
“We see a terrible backlash against sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Women and men of every age demand to get what is written in our laws and want health care based on scientific evidence" said Marina Toschi, gynecologist and member of the Pro Choice RICA Network.
And today activists gathered in front of the Health Ministry in Rome to ask for changes so that women could access medical abortion easier and be treated as out-patients as is the case in most European countries.
“Accessing medical abortion in Italy is incredibly complicated. In France GPs and midwifes can deliver it in their private practice. In Portugal it can be done in ‘health centres’, where they give you the pills with guidance and send you home, knowing that you can always come back and in case of problems.
We are wondering why is it so complicated in Italy?" continued Marina Toschi.
Activists have been heard. The Minister for Health has asked that the guidance on providing medical abortion be changed so that women can access it easier.
Sandra Zampa, the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health, has promised that these guidelines will be changed in the next month, adding:
"The law [on abortion] is still under attack. We are a country that evidently has not yet digested, metabolized the abortion law N 194, and so at the first opportunity we try to put everything into question. And always at the expense of women".
Next on the agenda for change
Italian activists are also asking the government for free contraceptive care. Currently, only a few regions cover some costs for contraception for a few women, but this should be homogenized throughout the country.
Contraceptive freedom should not depend on which country you live in, nor should it depend on your income. Women in Italy have been carrying for too long the financial burden of family planning. Access to contraception for all women in Italy is a matter of social justice and a prerequisite for achieving gender equality.
Activists have gathered 80.000 signatures in support of this change.
IPPF EN is proud to stand with Italian activists and support their continuous efforts to ensure that women and girls live free reproductive lives.
Photo credit: Diana Crocetti