Pope Benedict XVI Condemns Italy Abortion Law, Says It Hurts Women

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 12, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pope Benedict XVI Condemns Italy Abortion Law, Says It Hurts Women

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 12
, 2008

Rome, Italy (LifeNews.com) — Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech Monday in which he condemned Italy’s laws allowing legal abortions. He said the 30 years of abortions has destroyed countless lives — not only of unborn children but of women as well — and the speech comes after heated elections during which abortion was a key topic.

"Allowing the termination of pregnancies not only did not resolve the problems afflicting many women and more than a few families, but has also opened more wounds in our societies," the pope told members of an Italian pro-life group.

"Looking at the past three decades and considering the current situation, one cannot deny that defending human life has today become practically more difficult because of a mentality that has progressively degraded its value," he added.

"As a result, there is less respect for human life, but this value must be at the base of every moral civilization irrelevant of the religion of that civilization," he said.

"Your visit has taken place 30 years since Italy legalised abortion and the objective of your organisation suggests that there is a deep effect on humans and society which this law has produced in the civil and Christian community during this period," he told the pro-life campaigners.

The speech came before thousands of pro-life advocates from Movement for Life who had met in the Aula di Benedizione (Hall of Blessing).

Livia Turco, the former Health minister in the previous government, which lost the elections in part because of its pro-abortion advocacy, defended the abortion law in comments to Reuters.

"The legislation is wise, far-sighted and efficient," she said of the nation’s current abortion law.

The law was put in place in 1978 and it allows unlimited abortions up to 12 weeks into pregnancy and abortions up to 24 weeks in cases when the life of the mother is in danger of the baby is disabled.

Last month, a new report indicated as many as 70 percent of physicians in Italy now refuse to do abortions and that has resulted in a three percent drop in the number of abortions.

The new report from the nation’s ministry of health finds about 59 percent of doctors refused to do abortions in 2003 and, as of last year, the figure rose to just over 69 percent.

At the same time, the number of anesthesiologists refusing to take part in abortions rose from 45.7 percent to 50.4 percent.

The decision by medical professionals to refuse to take part in abortions has helped the abortion total drop from 131,018 in 2006 to 127,038 in 2007.

Abortions in Italy 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.