Abortion pill arrives in Italy
The RU486 abortion pill was used in a non-experimental way for the first time in Italy on Tuesday amid much controversy.
The issue of abortion gives rise to strong feelings in Italy as elsewhere in the world but abortion has been legal in the country since 1978. Women in Italy can request abortion on health, economic or social grounds, including the circumstances in which conception took place, during the first 90 days of pregnancy. A later termination can be carried out only in cases where the woman’s life would be at risk if the pregnancy were to continue, or if the foetus is so impaired that the mother’s mental or physical health would be endangered. Abortion is carried out free of charge in Italy.
The “medication abortion” is different from the “morning after” pill – also legal in Italy - with which it is often confused. Whilst the morning after pill acts to stop conception, the RU486 induces a true abortion.
For this reason, the Italian Ministry of Health has ruled that it must be administered in hospital within seven weeks of conception. Italy’s twenty regional health authorities are, however, free to decide whether the patient should be admitted to hospital on a day basis or whether she should remain in hospital until the abortion has taken place.
The woman treated on Tuesday discharged herself from hospital in Bari [Puglia] on Wednesday, which she was perfectly entitled to do. However, procedures are in place to safeguard women’s health following use of the medication and the Bari patient will have to return to hospital after 48 hours to collect medicines and again for a check-up after a fortnight.
Italy is one of the last European countries to have legalised the RU486 and in most other countries it can legally be taken at home.
Do you think Italy’s caution over the medication is correct or do you think Italy is behind the times in this matter?