Italian far-right leader Matteo Salvini unleashed outrage on Monday (February 17th) after denouncing the frequent use of foreign women in medical emergencies for abortions due to an 'uncivilized lifestyle' .
The voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion, up to the third month) was legalized in 1978 in Italy. Above the third month, abortion remains possible in for limited therapeutic reasons. But it is a type of intervention that is difficult to perform because 70% of gynecologists refuse to practice it in the name of "conscientious objection". "We have had reports that some women, who are not from Rome or Milan, went to the emergency room in Milan for the sixth time for a termination of pregnancy," said Matteo Salvini, based on the testimony nurses in the emergency room.
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"It is not my job, nor that of the state to give moral or ethical lessons to anyone, it is right that women choose for themselves and for their lives. But we cannot consider emergencies as the solution to an uncivilized way of life , ” launched the head of the sovereignists at a public meeting in Rome. “Some people took the emergency room for a vending machine without paying a cent. It's time to say stop to the thousands of non-Italian citizens camping in the emergency room. The third time you show up, you pay, ” he continued.
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These remarks aroused an outcry in the political class, the leader of the Democratic Party (center left, in power), Nicola Zingaretti, denouncing "the insults, the extravagant theories and the random statistics" of Mr. Salvini. “Fortunately, in the Italian emergency services, we don't listen to his provocations. We don't touch women. We don't touch the Italian health service , ” added the head of the Democrats.
The medical world also reacted, questioning the situation described by Matteo Salvini. "Abortion is not done in Italy in the emergency services, it seems strange, even impossible, unless there is a pathology, spontaneous abortion, which is rare" , explained to AFP Pina Onotri , the general secretary of the Italian doctors' union (SMI). For doctor Gisella Giampa, gynecologist at the Sandro Pertini hospital in Rome, Salvini "generalizes from rare cases" . "I have been practicing emergency gynecology for a long time and I can say that the scenario he evokes almost never happens ," she told AFP, adding that abortion in Italy is part of a very specific course of care.
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