Catholic Church Condemns New Italy Minister on RU 486 Abortion Drug

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 22, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Church Condemns New Italy Minister on RU 486 Abortion Drug Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 22, 2006

Rome, Italy ( — Before Italy held its latest presidential elections, Catholic Church officials were concerned that Romano Prodi would install new top government leaders who would press for the European nation to legalize the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug. Now that Prodi is the new Prime Minister, the Vatican is once again fighting health officials over mifepristone.

The official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano today issued a new editorial criticizing the abortion drug as dangerous for women and a death pill for unborn children.

The articles comes as a response to comments from Italy’s new health minister, Livia Turco, who says the abortion drug should be sold there.

The abortion drug has been responsible for the deaths of twelve women worldwide, including seven in the United States, two in Britain, and one in Canada, Sweden and France. In the U.S. alone, more than 950 women have been injured from the drug and some required emergency surgeries, blood transfusions or had incomplete abortions.

L’Osservatore Romano said it was upset with the haste that new government ministers are using to put forward their positions on "particularly delicate subjects" like the abortion drug.

"Yesterday," it said, "was the turn of the health minister, Livia Turco, who in essence declared support for experimentation with RU-486, the abortion-provoking drug."

The Catholic newspaper called the abortion drug a "light-hearted homicide, with the consolation of not having to think about it too much."

Prodi himself has expressed his discomfort with public stances his ministers have already taken. He said they should wait to comment until after a June meeting where he will express his policy initiative.

"Ministers cannot express opinions," he said, and added that his top officials are expected to fall in line with his government’s direction on various political issues.

Roberto Calderoli of the far-right Northern League also condemned Turco’s comments, saying, "What you eliminate with the RU-486 or a surgical abortion is not a blood clot but a fully-formed baby."

During the government of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who lost his bid for re-election to Prodi, Health Minister Francesco Storace halted clinical trials of the abortion drug.

Legalized in 1978, abortion is a central issue and though it is legal it is sometimes difficult for women to have abortions. Doctors in Italy are increasingly opting against performing abortions

One woman who wanted an abortion who flew to Spain for it after 10 doctors told her they would not perform it. In addition, a hospital in the city of Bergamo has allowed a local pregnancy help group to set up shop inside and it frequently helps women choose abortion alternatives.

Partly because of legal abortion, the European nation has seen falling birth rates and underpopulation. 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.

Lawmakers in the Italian parliament are even considering a proposal to pay pregnant women with unplanned pregnancies to avoid abortions.