Italy: a senator presents a bill questioning the legality of abortion

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Anti-abortion law proposal

Senator Maurizio Gasparri, member of the Berlusconian party Forza Italia has presented a bill to amend Article 1 of the Italian Civil Code which currently provides that “legal capacity” is acquired at birth. Legal capacity is a notion of general theory of law that characterizes a subject of law, who can therefore be the holder of rights and obligations.

Senator Maurizio Gasparri, for his part, wishes to modify the text so that legal capacity is acquired from the moment of conception. This would amount to exposing doctors agreeing to perform abortions to the risk of criminal prosecution, since as a subject of law, even an embryo would have the right to life. A way to implicitly repeal Law 194 of 1978 which legalizes the right to abortion in Italy.

Senator Maurizio Gasparri himself explains to La Stampa : “ I make this proposal to each legislature. This is a promise that we made to ourselves with Carlo Casini of the movimento per la vita, who was a Christian Democrat deputy for a very long time. This is indeed already the third time that the Senator has proposed this reform, only this time, for the first time since he got into this habit, the “center right” coalition, actually led by the Far-right organization Fratelli d’Italia led by Giorgia Meloni and bringing together Forza Italia led by Berlusconi and Lega led by Salvini won an absolute majority in Parliament.

New legislature under far-right aegis

The arrival of a new legislature is seen as an opportunity by all groups, there are already more than 500 bills tabled by parliamentarians since the start of the new legislature on 13th October. The proposals are very varied and come from all the political forces that have been able to elect parliamentarians. But the most reactionary proposals attract particular attention because of the new majority.

In addition to Gasparri’s proposal to ban abortion, this same elected official supports, for example, a text aimed at institutionalizing the “new life day”, a day called for every March 25 each year by a network of reactionary associations aimed at promoting the birth rate in one of the countries with the lowest fertility rates in Europe.

Forcing Maternities: A Deeply Reactionary Attack by the Bourgeoisie

The network giornata vita nascente claims high-level support. For example, he organized a day of seminars in a Catholic university in Rome in which economists and even the president of ISTAT (equivalent of INSEE, a public statistical research body) intervened. The birth rate has indeed fallen in Italy in recent years. There are two explanations for this: on the one hand, the destruction of public services makes it difficult to find a mode of childcare, while the care of the elderly already weighs heavily on the women of the family, again for lack of services public; and on the other hand, being a mother exposes you to such discrimination in Italy that it often purely and simply excludes you from the labor market.

Italy thus displayed a 43% unemployment rate for women with children in 2021. Precariousness is also omnipresent: the cash income (ND: without taking inflation into account) of Italian workers has collapsed since the 2008 crisis and is still not returned to its pre-crisis level. Currently it matches the income level of the late 1990s, and we must add to this observation that it does not take into account the inflation which constantly devalues ​​these revenues. It is therefore far from surprising in this context that the birth rate is low when having a child means plunging into precariousness for working women.

However, the Italian bourgeoisie wants at all costs to raise the fertility rate in order to renew the labor force and strengthen the family institution, which are two conditions for continuing to exploit the workers as much as possible. She is there facing a contradiction that she seeks to crush in an authoritarian way by attacking an elementary right. Abortion is already difficult to access in Italy, where 70% of doctors are conscientious objectors and refuse to perform abortions, a rate that increased by 12% between 1997 and 2016the result both of lobbying by Catholic associations who approach doctors to convince them to stop performing abortions, but also of negative repercussions for the careers of non-objecting doctors because the majority of other doctors are objectors.

A reactionary right was able to structure itself around “anti-gender” rhetoric from 2013 in connection with the mobilizations against homosexual marriage in France and to impose itself in the Italian political landscape around a desire to fight “against the demographic winter” and for “the fiscal and cultural promotion of the natural family and the primacy of parents in education” as claimed by Massimo Gandolfini, reactionary activist and Catholic academic after a “pro-family” demonstration in 2018.

And as the coalition parties negotiated the formation of the Meloni government, Matteo Salvini said he was waiting for the institution of a “ministry of family and birth”which was actually given this Friday, October 21 to Eugenia Maria Roccella, elected Fratelli d’Italia known for her homophobic and anti-abortion positions.

An anti-gender backlash to emerging feminist and LGBT movements

It is also an authoritarian reaction to feminist and LGBTI movements that are re-emerging in Italy, in particular the Non Una di Meno movement, an Italian takeover of the Ni Una Menos movement born in 2015 in Argentina. This movement has seen the birth of assemblies throughout the territory since 2016 which have tended to become radicalized from 2018 and which represent a new feminist and LGBTI generation less institutional than the previous so-called second wave feminist generation. It led to the emergence of issues of gender violence and inequality on the political scene which resulted in extremely polarizing debates concerning the DDL Zan, a bill aimed at acknowledging hate crimes against women and LGBT people. , which was rejected in the previous legislature.

In this context of employers’ and reactionary offensives which go hand in hand, it is essential to rely on the combative feminist movement which is already beginning to react against the DDL Gasparri. In this sense, the day of November 25 will be a decisive point of support.

While the center-right coalition and its government intend to introduce a “flat tax”, i.e. a fixed tax rate to the advantage of the richest, and to abolish the citizenship income (equivalent to the RSA ) in order to reorganize social assistance so that it primarily concerns the elderly or disabled or even women with young children, thus making obtaining minimum social benefits subject to more conditions, there is no doubt that new Italian governments and parliaments will continue to attack women and workers.

This is why our comrades from bread and pink seek to intervene in this movement by carrying a class struggle feminism, which highlights that these attacks on the right to abortion are deeply capitalist and reactionary attacks aimed at forcing unwanted maternity, which will particularly affect women the most precarious. This also makes the defense of the fight for the right to abortion free and accessible to all a claim that must be carried by the labor movement in Italy and internationally.

Italy: a senator presents a bill questioning the legality of abortion