ROME, August 10, 2004 ( – Antonio Gentile, a senator belonging to Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, proposed a law August 8 that would limit tax-payer funded abortions to one per woman. After her first abortion, a financially comfortable woman would have to pay part and then all of further abortions, which cost the equivalent of roughly $3,000 Canadian.  Mr. Gentile, now being vilified by political opponents as a Catholic reactionary and enemy of women’s rights, plans to present the law to parliament in a month’s time. He has the support of about 20 senators among his own and allied parties. Many saw the proposal by the senator as an attempt to encourage women to have more children. Italy’s birth rate last year was the lowest in Europe at 9.18 births/1,000 compared to the European average of 10.43/1,000.  Italy’s government has recently begun to reverse its radical policies, which for years made one-child families the only reasonably viable option for Italians. Last year the government offered a 1,000 euro “baby bonus” for every second child born by the end of the year. Though abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978, the morning after pill is not available over the counter and there are proposals to legally safeguard pharmacists’ right not to sell the morning after pill.  jmo