On Mother’s Day, 40,000 people gathered in Rome for the fifth annual March for Life. Unfortunately, in Italy abortion is legal through the third month of pregnancy and now they have one of the lowest birth rates in Europe. In fact, as LifeNews previously reported, Italian health minister Beatrice Lorenzin said that Italy is a “dying country” because of their record low birth rate.
Since 1981, Italy’s birth rate has fallen to 8.4 per 1,000 people. Lorenzin explained, “We are at the threshold where people who die are not being replaced by newborns. That means we are a dying country. This situation has enormous implications for every sector: the economy, society, health, pensions, just to give a few examples.”
The theme of the march was “For Life, No Compromise” and Pope Francis spoke to those who attended the event. He said, “It is important to collaborate together to promote and defend life.” In January, Pope Francis called Christians in Italy to “a renewed esteem of the human person and a more adequate care of life, from conception to natural death.”
In an interview with the Catholic News Agency, a woman who was at the Mother’s Day March shared that she was conceived in rape but believes her story can impact women who become pregnancy after assault. Mary Rathke said, “They say that it is the rapist’s baby, that it is a monster’s baby, and that no one would want this child. I am not a monster’s baby. I am not the rapist’s baby. I am my mother’s child, and I’m a child of the most High God, and I am made in His image.”
She added, “We deserve life as well. I come to represent all of the women who are suffering silently because they were raped. When they see my sign, and when they hear my story, they come and they thank me, and they say that they’re not going to be ashamed anymore, that they are also made in God’s image.
The truth is abortion after rape only adds another tragedy on top of an already horrific situation. Rathke tells women who are victims of rape and considering abortion that their baby deserves life. She says, “An abortion will only end your baby’s life. Your baby’s a victim, just like you are. Give that baby life. That baby’s life is beautiful, and wonderful, and is not an ugly reminder of a bad thing … God is giving you something good to hang onto after such a horrible encounter.”
Abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978. Since then, more than 6 million Italian babies have been aborted.
March for Life spokesperson Virginia Nunziante told CNA ahead of the event that while it is highly unusual for post-abortive women to speak out, these witnesses “understand now how important it is to have this message, also to help other young women.”
The annual event, which has been modeled from the US March for Life held each year in Washington DC, has drawn thousands of people from around the world to the streets of Rome. An estimated 50,000 people attended the march in 2015.
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Nunziante explained that the focus of this year’s March for Life is not only in defense of the unborn, but also intended as a witness against euthanasia, explaining that Italy is attempting to advance legislation on this issue.
In 2009, Italy became embroiled in a legal battle when the father of Eluana Englaro, an Italian woman who had been in a vegetative state for 17 years, sought to have her feeding tube removed.
Nunziante explained that the March for Life it is important event not only for Italians, but also on an international level.
“The Holy See is seen as an important worldwide voice,” she said. “The Pope is seen as such. And this is the reason why they all come to Rome.”
This year’s March for Life saw the gathering of even more international pro-life representatives than previously, she said. “They understand that we have to give a worldwide message, and from Rome, the word is getting wider and wider.”