Italy Health Minister Won’t Stop Hospital Trials of RU 486 Abortion Drug

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 26, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Italy Health Minister Won’t Stop Hospital Trials of RU 486 Abortion Drug Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 26, 2006

Rome, Italy ( — Italy’s health minister Livia Turco says he will not try to stop Italian hospitals from conducting trials of the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug, which has been responsible for the deaths of twelve women worldwide. Turco has come under fire from the Catholic church and members of parliament.

Turco is touring the country visiting hospitals and is slated to soon visit Sant’Anna hospital, which is one of the medical centers conducting the trials.

"The experiment in Sant’Anna hospital has been performed according to the 194 law and must remain within these constraints," Turco said Monday, referring to an Italian law stating that abortion should not be used as a form of contraception.

"I have a document of the High Council of Health and the AIFA, the Medicine Bureau, that confirm this," Turco added, according to an AGI news report

"I have said that I cannot stop experiments already in progress. The previous government, that have tried to stop the experiment for ideological reasons, has failed. I have nothing to add to what the institutions of the ministry of health have already stated," Turco said.

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 Italian government is backing down from its attempt to stop the abortion drug.

Turco replaces former Health Minister Francesco Storace who was able to halt the RU 486 abortion drug trials temporarily.

He was able to do so, citing the 194 law and the fact that some of the women involved in the abortion drug trials were ultimately having the abortions at home rather than in the hospitals. A regional ethics committee eventually said the hospital was conducting the abortion drug tests within the law.

In the Monday interview with Italian media, Turco said attorneys will have to look at the law, but that, in his opinion, "I don’t believe that the rules set by the ministry have been violated."

Turco said no pharmaceutical company in Italy has yet asked to begin selling the abortion drug nationwide.

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.