Media misleads on Italian lawmakers’ allowance of ‘nonprofits’ to counsel pregnant women

Italian lawmakers in the lower House have passed an amendment to a new health care package that would clarify the ability of “counseling centres” to allow qualified nonprofits that provide maternity services to partner with the centres to discuss pregnancy options with women, including abortion. However, the way most of the media and even lawmakers are presenting this clarification in the law is highly misleading, stoking anger against pro-life advocates by implying the amendment would allow pro-life advocates to enter abortion facilities to speak to women.

Lawmakers under Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni say that the amendment, which would allow “nonprofit groups with qualified experience in supporting maternity” to counsel women, doesn’t change the current law but instead clarifies it. Meloni has reportedly slammed the misrepresentation of the amendment and was quoted by Reuters as saying, “Normally when one is ignorant about a subject one should at least have the good sense not to lecture.” 

Reuters, at least, provided a small piece of honesty (albeit at the very end of its article on the matter), stating: “Family clinics, which are part of the national health service, offer women sexual health, pregnancy and maternity support and services, including medical consultations and prescriptions. What the amendment prescribes is already a reality in some Italian regions, where local right-wing administrations have offered funding to anti-abortion associations and allowed them to operate in family clinics.” (emphasis added)

In other words, these are national health service facilities which provide services of all kinds to pregnant women; they are not private abortion businesses.

“This was already included in the letter of the law, which we haven’t touched,” said Raffaele Nevi, a lawmaker in the prime minister’s coalition. “That’s the whole reason it got so easily approved: It changes nothing. … It’s just about applying it.”

Deputy Prime Minister Antonio Tajani said the measure would allow for “freedom of conscience,” stating, “We must not criminalize those who are against abortion. We have always allowed freedom of conscience on issues of this kind. I believe it is right for everyone to behave according to their own beliefs and conscience.”

Reportedly, most OBGYNs in the country choose not to commit abortions, even thought it is legal in the first 90 days and then beyond if the life of the mother is considered to be at risk or the baby has abnormalities that put the mother’s psychological or physical health at risk.

READ: Italy experiences pushback as it moves to curb overseas surrogacy

Dr. Calum Miller spoke out on Twitter/X to point out, in particular, the UK Guardian’s dishonest spin on the amendment:

Miller stated in a tweet thread, “The headline makes it sound like Italy has legalised the invasion of abortion clinics, with protestors waving signs in the waiting rooms or marching into the operating room shouting…” which is clearly not the case.

He explained in more detail (emphases added):

In 1975, before Italy legalised abortion, they passed a law establishing family counseling centres. Two of the stated objectives of these were:

“psychological and social assistance for preparation for responsible motherhood and fatherhood and for the problems of the couple and the family” and “the protection of women’s health and the product of conception.”

When abortion was legalised in 1978, the law referred to these centres, requiring them to:

a) inform women of the rights to which they are entitled, and of the social, health, and welfare services offered locally, b) inform women how to comply with the protections in labour law for pregnant women c) implement or propose interventions to the local authority to solve problems where a) proves inadequate

And most crucially:

“d) help to overcome the causes that could lead a woman to terminate her pregnancy. On the basis of specific regulations or agreements, the counseling centres can avail themselves, for the purposes established by law, of the voluntary collaboration of suitable basic social formations and voluntary associations, which can also help difficult motherhood after birth.”

And perhaps what is key, Miller claims: “There is nothing in this that even refers to abortion clinics – let alone forces them to allow in anti-abortion activists. Probably not a single abortion clinic in the country will do so. All it says is that healthcare/counseling services can use the help from voluntary organisations with qualified experience in maternity support if they want to.”

He notes that the amendment and law contain no references to “anti-abortion groups” or “pro-life groups,” and adds that the UK Guardian is “misleading people” and “deceiving the public” about Italy’s amendment. But the Guardian isn’t alone, with the Washington Post spinning a similar angle, among other outlets.

Pro Vita e Famiglia (Pro-Life and Family), the country’s largest pro-life organization, is allegedly among those that would be qualified to counsel women at the family centres. But the Washington Post obtained a quote from Jacopo Coghe, a spokesperson for Pro Vita, who confirmed that the group is not planning on entering abortion facilities, and instead wants to return to the “original function of helping women find concrete alternatives to abortion.”

Despite the good work these pro-lifers do, many jurisdictions have passed laws restricting their free speech in an effort to silence them altogether. Italy’s health care package with its included amendment still needs to pass the Senate, where it is expected to receive a majority of votes.

Pro-life counselors are often present outside abortion facilities to help women realize that there are resources available to them, and that abortion is not their only option. Many women have spoken out thanking these counselors, saying that because of the help offered, they were empowered to choose life.

The DOJ put a pro-life grandmother in jail for protesting the killing of preborn children. Please take 30-seconds to TELL CONGRESS: STOP THE DOJ FROM TARGETING PRO-LIFE AMERICANS.

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