Italy ok’s abortion pill despite Catholic church opposition and threats

July 31, 2009

approximately_6_weeks_estimated_gestational_age(ChattahBox) — Italy’s drug regulation agency has defied the Roman Catholic church, authorizing the use of the abortion pill mifepristone or RU-486.¬† The Italian Pharmaceuticals Agency (AIFA) announced its decision late on Thursday despite fierce opposition by the church and conservative politicians, including many from Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right government.
The Catholic church not hesitant to step over the boundaries of church and state threatens to excommunicate doctors who prescribe the drug and patients who use it. Despite the fact that:

  • RU-486, which is used to chemically¬† terminate pregnancies within the first seven weeks, is approved as a prescription drug in the United States and almost all the European Union except some of the most Catholic countries
  • Abortion has been legal in Italy on demand in the first 90 days of pregnancy and until the 24th week if the life of the mother is at risk or the fetus is malformed, since 1978.

Supporters in Italy say there is no contradiction with current Italian law. Even so it may still be quite difficult for pregnant woman to get a prescription. According to the health ministry, 70% of Italian doctors are “conscientious objectors” who refuse to carry out abortions.

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