Maurizio Gasparri has higher chance of success this time after rightwing coalition’s election victory
An Italian senator has submitted a proposal for an amendment to Italy’s civil code that would recognise a foetus as a human being, which if passed into law could enable pregnancy terminations to be classified as murder.
Maurizio Gasparri, a politician with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, which is part of the government led by Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy – a party with neofascist origins – expected to be sworn in next week, unleashed a barrage of criticism from members of the opposition when he presented his “rights of the unborn child” proposal to the senate.
Gasparri has presented the same proposal at the start of three administrations since 2018, but this time the plan has a much higher chance of being approved given that the Meloni-led coalition, which also includes Matteo Salvini’s far-right League, is anti-abortion and has a solid majority in both houses of parliament.
Ignazio La Russa, a Brothers of Italy co-founder and collector of fascist memorabilia, was elected speaker of the senate last week, while Lorenzo Fontana, an ultra-Catholic politician with the League who has anti-abortion and anti-gay views, was elected speaker of the lower house.
The suggested amendment to the civil code stipulates that “every human being has legal status from the moment of conception”.
Gasparri, who has also proposed extending Italy’s surrogacy ban to criminalise Italians who seek surrogate mothers abroad, told La Stampa that he was re-presenting the proposal as “a moral commitment” to the late Carlo Casini, the founder of the Italian Movement for Life.
“Is it permissible to talk about life or not?” Gasparri said. “I always repeat this proposal in the hope that sooner or later we can have a peaceful discussion on these issues.”
Meloni, who is poised to become prime minister, said during the election campaign that she would not abolish Italy’s abortion legislation, known as law 194, in place since 1978, but instead wanted to “enforce it fully”, for example by supporting women to have an “alternative to abortion”.
The coalition’s election victory in late September provoked thousands of women to join marches across the country for the protection of abortion rights.
Simona Malpezzi, of the centre-left Democratic party, said of Gasparri’s move: “This is the rightwing that has women’s freedom at heart and which said it wouldn’t touch law 194. Outrageous.”
Giuseppe Conte, the leader of the Five Star Movement, said: “Gasparri’s bill against abortion, Berlusconi’s honeymoon with Putin. If they want to lead Italy in this direction, they will hit a wall.”

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