Italian far-right did it again: open doors to anti-choice associations by law

Italian far-right did it again: open doors to anti-choice associations by law
By Ethan Gregory Dodge, June 1st, 2022, via unsplash


Benedetta De Rosa

Women’s Rights Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defence.

France introduces the right to abortion into the constitution[1]. Spain takes steps to remove obstacles to voluntary interruption of pregnancy[2]. Germany excludes anti-choice associations from counsellings[3]. Italy, on the other hand, employs as many resources as possible to make decisions over women’s bodies.

         On April 16th, an amendment by Giorgia Meloni’s party, Brothers of Italy, passed in the budget committee that would provide funding for anti-abortion associations through funds from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP)[4]. Final approval came in the Senate on April 23rd, with 95 votes in favour, 68 against and one abstention[5]. In the Senate, the confidence vote also involves a vote on the entire measure, which was approved by the Chamber on first reading on April 16th, and will therefore become law. They officially open wide the doors to anti-choice associations within family counselling centres.

         Counselling centres are the places where the right to abortion should be protected and accompanied, where women should be able to move safely, without fear of running into misogynistic, sexist, and stigma-filled attitudes. It should be a space for information and self-determination. But, in reality, they are places where they find a third party who wants to decide for them.

         The Italian law regulating abortion, Law for the Social Safeguarding of Motherhood and Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy, recognises the possibility of using partnerships with “maternity support associations”, to accompany women before and after a difficult pregnancy[6]. These associations have no interest in women’s needs because their sole purpose is to prevent those who want to terminate a pregnancy from accessing abortion. Over the years, their means are increasingly devious: ranging from psychological pressure playing on guilt[7], to fake news, such as abortion would cause breast cancer[8].

         Italy has been the talk of the town everywhere with this news, but it is nothing surprising. In Italy, it was already known what the direction of the far-right party was, regarding self-determination of bodies. They have demonstrated this several times before and after coming to power. They proposed recognising the legal capacity of the conceived[9] and the introduction of foetus cemeteries[10], for example. These were attempts to legitimise the humanisation of the foetus and thus criminalising abortion.

Before the 2022 national elections, far-right-wing parties signed the anti-abortion association Pro Life & Family’s charter of principles[11]. The charter advocates the urgency of eliminating all social, economic, and personal conditions that today lead a woman to want an abortion and condemns abortion as the suppression of innocent and defenceless life. In other words, abortion is defined as murder, and the far-Right agrees, so why sign it otherwise. But their support for these associations does not end there, because even before the April amendment, they were sending them funds to intercept women who wanted to have abortions and dissuade them from doing so. The Birthright Funds in Piedmont[12] and Umbria[13] regions are clear examples of this.

         So, the anti-abortionists are already in the counselling centres, and with the amendment the only thing that would actually change is the source of funding for anti-abortion associations.

         European Commission Economic Affairs spokeswoman Veerle Nuyts reiterates that the abortion law has no connection to the Italian Recovery and Resilience Plan[14]. This, in fact, is the investment program that Italy has to present to the European Commission, as well as a tool to respond to the crisis caused by Covid-19 pandemic. The abortion law is not part of the plan.

         Beyond the reconciliation of the NRRP funds with the abortion law, the European Parliament voted by a majority to include the right to abortion in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights[15]. The direction of Europe is therefore clear, and Italy is moving in the opposite direction, ignoring all external judgements.

The Italian government’s use of European funds represents yet another attack on the right to abortion by using loopholes in the law that regulates it.

Sources and further readings:

[1] FRANCE 24 with AFP (2024, March 04). France enshrines abortion as a constitutional right in historic vote, FRANCE 24, Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[2] Rai (2023, February 17). Spagna, via libera a “legge trans”, riforma dell’aborto e congedo mestruale, Rai, Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[3] Carbonaro G. (2024, January 30). Germany tries to stop pro-life demonstrators harassing women seeking abortions,, Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[4] Barbati G. (2024, April 23). Italia, Senato approva la presenza di gruppi pro vita nei consultori, euronews. Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[5] Bocci M. (2024, April 23). Aborto, il Senato vota sì aò decreto Pnrr, che diventa legge: via libera ai “Pro Vita” nei consultori. Svuotato anche il fondo per la messa in sicurezza degli ospedali, laRepubblica, Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[6] Law n. 194/1978 (1978, May 22). Norme per la tutela sociale della maternità e sull’interruzione volontaria di gravidanza, Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[7] Aoi S. (2023, July 31). Gli antiabortisti di Fdi portano in ospedale la stanza per fermare le donne, laRepubblica, Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[8] Pro Vita & Famiglia (2014, August 08). Aborto volontario e cancro al seno, Pro Vita & Famiglia, Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[9] Politica (2022, October 18). Contro l’aborto arriva in Senato una proposta di legge di Gasparri. Pd: “Inaudito”, laRepubblica, Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[10] Somma N. (2022, September 04). Aborto, la proposta sul cimitero dei feti è un attacco all’autodeterminazione delle donne, Il fatto quotidiano, Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[11] Sgreccia C. (2022, September 29). Giorgia Meloni, Matteo Salvini e Silvio Berlusconi sottoscrivono la Carta dei Pro Vita contro l’aborto, L’Espresso, Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[12] Guerra J. (2023, May 09). Cimiteri dei feti e fondi “per la vita”, così la destra sta cercando di demolire il diritto all’aborto,, Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[13] Girardi A. (2023, July 11). In Umbria istituito fondo per la vita nascente, Piccolotti: “Criminalizzano donne che vogliono abortire”,, Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[14] LaRepubblica (2024, April 19). Aborto, l’UE boccia i fondi per i pro-life nei consultori: “Misure nel decreto italiano non c’entrano col Pnrr”, laRepubblica, Consulted on April 24, 2024.

[15] Pedrazzoli M. (2024, April 11). EU Parliament calls for inclusion of abortion in Charter of Fundamental Rights, eunews, Consulted on April 24, 2024.