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Pro-lifers in Rome protest the removal of an approved billboard, April 14, 2018.
Estefania Aguirre

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Mayor of Rome removes authorized pro-life billboard, pro-lifers protest

Estefania Aguirre
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The pro-life billboard removed by Rome's mayor.

ROME, April 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – About 50 pro-life advocates gathered in Rome on Saturday to protest the mayor of Rome’s sudden decision to remove a pro-life billboard that had been initially authorized in the city.

They held a large white banner with the words “No Censura” [No Censorship] painted in bright red letters. Members of the group also wore white bandanas tied around their mouths. They held miniature versions of the banned billboard. 

The billboard depicted the image of a baby in a womb and the words “You were like this at 11 weeks. All your organs were present. Your heart was beating already from the third week after conception. You already sucked your thumb. And now you’re here because your mother has not aborted you.”

The poster was part of a campaign launched by Provita for the 40th anniversary of the legalization of abortion in the country, which falls on May 22.

Luca Scalise, one of the event’s organizers and member of Provita Onlus, told LifeSiteNews during the April 14 protest that the billboard’s message was backed by science. 

“There were no provocative or offensive sentences on the billboard,” he said. 

“Science is written on this poster, it’s what science affirms, a logical deduction on which even abortionists could agree,” he added. 

He criticized the mayor’s decision to remove the billboard. 

“This day and this symbolic sit-in is important because our freedom of expression and the defense of human life has been completely denied to us after the removal of a poster that was hung in a fully authorized manner,” he said. 

“We wonder how the removal of this poster, a violent act, is democratic,” he added. 

Maria Edima Venancio, a Brazilian living in Rome who was among the protesters, underscored the importance of the demonstration.

“This demonstration is important for freedom of speech and for the right to life, which is very important,” she said.

Provita had been initially authorized to have the image placed on the facade of a building on Via Gregorio VII street, relatively close to the Vatican, from April 3 – 15. The billboard had been paid for. Organizers had also obtained permission from the building’s residents to hang the billboard on the facade.

But Virginia Raggi, the mayor of Rome and member of the political party Five Star Movement, ordered its removal and had it taken down on April 6, without an explanation.

Among those pressuring for the billboard’s removal was Monica Cirinnà, the wife of the mayor of Fiumicino, greater Rome, and senator of the Partito Democratico who stressed that “it’s shameful that the streets of Rome allow posters against a law of the State and against women’s right to choose #immediateremoval” in a tweet on April 5.

Vita di Donna Onlus was among the main groups lobbying with an online petition for the poster’s removal.

Provita was denied permission to hold Saturday’s demonstration in front of the Campidoglio building – Rome’s municipality – and had to gather instead at Piazza Madonna di Loreto, hidden behind police vans that limit traffic on weekends between Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum.

Towards the end of the protest, a young female tourist walking by grabbed and ripped a poster of one of the demonstrators and shouted at the group, but left within a few minutes despite no police intervention.

Provita is a non-profit organization dedicated to working to defend children, to defend life from conception to natural death, to support the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, and to defend the right of parents to educate their children.

According to the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istituto Nazionale di Statistica) and the Ministry of Health, there were 84,874 abortions in the country in 2016, down when compared to previous years. This average of 232 abortions a day, however, does not include the deaths caused by abortifacients such as Italy’s EllaOne.

Luca underscored that his organization “will continue its battle.”

“It is true that they want to silence us in all ways, but as long as we have life, we will try to fight for the lives of everyone else, from conception to natural death,” he said. 

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