Abortion Key Issue in Italian Election

By Terry Vanderheyden

ROME, March 30, 2006 ( – For the first time in 25 years, Italian politicians have been campaigning for an election with abortion as a key issue.

According to a BBC report, some women are complaining that abortions are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain in the largely Catholic country. One woman told the BBC she had to fly to Spain for a late-term abortion because 10 doctors had turned her down.

A clinic in Bergamo in the Lombardy region even allows a pro-life group to counsel mothers considering abortion. So far in the last five years they say they have saved 25 children. One doctor working at the women’s health centre there told the BBC he has been marginalized because he commits abortions. “I have already been completely marginalised within the unit and now only carry out menial tasks,” he said. His real name was withheld. “The only time I’m allowed into the operating theatre is to carry out abortions.”

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a pro-lifer, and his centre-right coalition face Romano Prodi’s centre-left coalition on April 9 and 10. One top minister in Berlusconi’s parliament, Rocco Buttiglione, was instrumental in helping Italian prelate, Cardinal Ruini, to boycott an abortion referendum last year.

“We are at a turning point, which is why we won the boycott last year,” said Buttiglione. “Should children be born out of the love between a man and a woman or should we make them into a commodity? The answer [to the latter is] clearly ‘no.’ There is an important change in the mood of the country.”

Pope Benedict XVI commented on the election meanwhile, saying the position of the church on the issues of abortion and same-sex “marriage,” is “non-negotiable.”

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