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Italy denies attempt to dilute G7 statement on 'safe and legal' abortion

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Italy denies attempt to dilute G7 statement on 'safe and legal' abortion
People gathered in downtown Rome mark the annual International Safe Abortion Day on September 28th 2022. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Italy's government on Thursday denied an attempt to water down a G7 declaration on abortion rights after diplomatic sources said it was trying to remove a reference to "safe and legal" terminations.

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Far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's reported objections to protecting sexual rights have irked fellow Group of Seven countries Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the US, the sources said.

Meloni's office on Wednesday denied abortion rights had been slashed from the draft final summit statement, saying negotiations were ongoing.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani told Sky TG24 on Thursday that it was "premature" to comment as "the different delegations are [still] negotiating".

Last year's G7 leaders' statement, after a summit in Japan, expressed "strong concern" about the rollback of women’s rights.

READ ALSO: Anger as Italy allows pro-life activists into abortion clinics

It also committed to sexual and reproductive health rights for all, "including by addressing access to safe and legal abortion and post abortion care".

A source close to the negotiations told AFP there has "been a mention of 'safe access'" since 2021, but "Meloni doesn't want it".

"She's the only one, she's isolated on the issue. But since it's the host country, the others have decided not to make it a casus belli," the source said, using the Latin term for an act that provokes a war.

"So it won't come back in the text."

The final document is not expected to be published until late Friday.

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A French presidency official told journalists on Wednesday that the G7 negotiations included "debates notably on questions of sexual and reproductive health [...] which were not able to be taken into account as much as we would have liked by the Italian presidency".

France and Canada were particularly frustrated, as they had been pushing to strengthen abortion rights, according to Italy's Domani newspaper.

READ ALSO: What will Italy's right-wing election victory mean for abortion rights?

Abortion is also a hot topic in the United States, where President Joe Biden has been railing against curbs on abortion implemented in most conservative states.

An Italian presidency source denied that the mention of "safe access" had already been cut.

"No state has asked to eliminate the reference to issues relating to abortion from the draft conclusions of the G7 summit...at a stage in which the negotiations are still ongoing," a presidency source said.

"Everything that will be included in the final document" will come out of negotiations, it said.

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Meloni, a self-described "Christian mother" who came to power in 2022, has been accused by rights activists of attempting to make it more difficult to terminate pregnancies in Italy.

Although abortion has been legal in the Catholic-majority country since 1978, accessing it is challenging due to the high percentage of gynaecologists who refuse to perform them on moral or religious grounds.

In April, the Italian parliament passed a measure proposed by Meloni's hard-right government coalition allowing anti-abortion activists to enter consultation clinics, sparking outrage from opposition parties.

By AFP's Ella Ide

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