By Hilary White

NAPLES, February 14, 2008 ( – Italian police confiscated the remains of a 21 week old child who died by abortion, after they received a tip that the abortion had been conducted illegally.

Police received an anonymous tip, while the woman was still in the abortuary, that the abortion had been carried out after the legal time limit. La Repubblica newspaper reported that police showed up at the abortion mill, questioned Silvana, and confiscated the child’s remains and the hospital chart.

The 39-year-old Naples woman who was the mother of the child, identified only as Silvana S., was, however, within the time limit of legal abortion under Italian law.  She wanted an abortion after tests had revealed abnormalities.

The action by police, as well as the endorsement by Silvio Berlusconi, leader of the centre-right Forza Italia party, of a worldwide moratorium on abortion, has brought the issue of abortion into the political limelight as the Italian election coverage continues.

General elections are scheduled for April 13-14 and opposition leader Berlusconi is considered a front runner for the office of Prime Minister. He told the weekly Tempi magazine that the United Nations should recognize the right to life from “conception until natural death”. He said, however, that in voting, the matter is one that should be left up to the individual conscience of legislators.

Berlusconi said, “I think that recognizing the right to life from conception to natural death is a principle that the UN could make its own, just as it did with the moratorium on the death penalty.”

In Italy abortion for a healthy child is legal up to 90 days gestation. Eugenic abortions can be committed up to 24 weeks gestation, or if there is a “grave risk” to the mother’s health.

Silvana S. told La Repubblica, “It would have been my first child. I was suffering, I wanted a child at all costs. I would never have aborted had I not been given the doctor’s verdict.”

“I am 39 years old and so it was obvious that I should have an amniocentesis test which I had in my 16th week.” Silvana was told that the child had Klinefelter Syndrome, a genetic abnormality that can cause mental disability, heart disease and diabetes.

“I had no choice. He would have been ill for the rest of his life so I had no doubts over having an abortion. It was a painful decision for me.”

The abortion facility released the notes of the physician, Dr Carmine Nappi, that said, “The foetus has chromosome defects. If the pregnancy continues there is the 40 per cent possibility of mental disability.”

“There is also the possibility of physical damage to the mother and she has seen a psychiatrist and agreed to an abortion.”

Read related coverage:

Italian Presidential Candidate Announces Support for UN “Moratorium” on Abortion