by Steven Ertelt
December 2, 2005
Rome, Italt (LifeNews.com) — As elections heat up in Italy, lawmakers in the Italian Parliament are considering a proposal to pay pregnant women with unplanned pregnancies to avoid abortions. Italian voters are expected to vote again in April and the Catholic Church is lobbying MPs to do more to reduce abortions.
Abortion has been legal in Italy for 30 years and while no one is suggesting changing that, both right-wing government lawmakers and left-wing opposition lawmakers may agree on the plan to pay women considering abortions to choose otherwise.
In a recent budget bill the Italian government proposed paying pregnant women after they have given birth.
In 1978, Italy legalized abortion up to the third month of pregnancy and the center-left opposition Margherita party has a proposal where the state would give poor single women more than $400 a month from that point until birth.
A parliamentary committee is reviewing the measure.
The proposal follows strong words from the Catholic Church condemning abortion and criticizing one hospital’s campaign to try out the dangerous abortion drug RU 486. The church labeled the drug a "suppression of innocent human life.”
Since legalizing abortion, the European nation has seen falling birth rates and underpopulation since then. Some officials are concerned that the birth rate is below replacement level.
In 2003 the fertility rate — the number of children per woman of childbearing age — was only 1.27, one of the lowest in the world.
Abortions have been declining, dropping from 234,801 abortions in 1982 to 136,715 in 2004 but pro-life advocates would like to drive that number down even further.
According to an Associated Press news report, Health Minister Francesco Storace received praise from pro-life advocates at the Vatican for his proposal for government funding of crisis pregnancy centers.