Daniela Colombo in her letter to the editor, “Italy’s Subtle War against Abortion,” (Vol. 37, No.2) gives an accurate description of the situation of abortion in Italy. We are gynecologists involved in the reproductive health field in Rome, engaged since the very beginning of the approval of Law 194 on abortion in 1978 and in its daily implementation. This gives us the chance to further clarify other aspects of the obstacles that women requesting abortion in Italy are faced with.
In our country, termination of pregnancy is not considered by the same standard as any other medical matter, making impossible updates about the techniques that any other medical procedure would require. It took years to overcome countless difficulties to introduce medical abortion in our country, starting from the approval of mifepristone by the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) in 2009. Today, seven years after its authorization, medical abortion is still not a choice for the vast majority of Italian women, as it represents less than 10 percent of all procedures. Most hospitals do not have the drug in their pharmacies, even though it is indicated in cases such as intrauterine fetal death.
Obstacles to women’s free choice concern abortion providers, who feel entitled not to apply the procedures recommended by leading health agencies. They consider that they have always adopted surgical procedures, and they don’t intend to change their habits and their mental attitude for women requesting medical abortions. Moreover, they think they know better the best choice for women, ignoring what women think and want. Of course, the best choice is what works best for the provider. “Italy’s subtle war against abortion” has other faces, concerning not only conscientious objection but also the lack of scientific and secular culture on so-called ethically sensitive issues.
Vice President, FIAPAC