The Darkest Side Of Abortion

An outburst on Facebook about abortion unveiled an ugly truth.

At the end of September a Facebook post sparked a heated national debate. The facts reported on the popular social media date back to when an Italian woman found out that her name was engraved on a cross in a cemetery in Rome. Here, it turned out, there is a section solely dedicated to the burial of fetuses and newborns called the ‘Garden of Angels’.

In her post, the woman explained how it was just a random stroll that allowed her to know the ugly truth. The shock caused by the news and the situation upset the general public, affecting also the organizations involved in the burial processes. As a matter of fact, if you have had an abortion in Italy, whether or not you want to keep it private, you may find your name on a cross.

You’re free to choose, they say

Since 1978 abortion is legal by law and every woman can resort to this procedure. Nonetheless, there is a strong, widespread religious culture which keeps contrasting it and influencing the decisional process. The organization Obiezione Respinta created an interactive map listing places — hospitals, pharmacies and counseling centers — where you can find medical objectors and counsellors against abortion. Just by looking at the map, it is clear that abortion and everything associate to it still represents a thorny subject to discuss, if not a taboo. As a consequence, the Italian legislative framework in relation to abortion reflects this situation and still needs major improvements.

With particular reference to the case of the graves of fetuses, the last change in the national legislation dates back to a regulation of 1990 and, before that, to a royal decree of 1939. In the seventh article of the regulation, indeed, it is explained how to dispose of the bodies in accordance with their age, thus allowing the local sanitary unit to decide for a burial or not, on a case by case evaluation.

However, the experience of this woman is a clear example of how there is a huge grey area. The obvious sensitivity of the theme is exacerbated by the privacy issues of the specific circumstances. The abortion procedure is often accompanied by the filling of several forms related to informed consent, but few of those refer to the post-abortion phase. According to some personal stories collected by L’Espresso, the disclosure of information is not clear or standardized, since it is made orally. Therefore, as it is described, there is a condition of persistent ambiguity from start to finish.

“Say yes to life!”

In this scenario, the role of parallel associations seems essential. In particular, hospitals and healthcare structures tend to lean on external organizations to dispose of the results of an abortion. In most cases, in Italy this activity is delegated to pro-life and religious organizations. L’Armata Bianca and Difendere la Vita con Maria are just the two most widely known. In technical…


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