Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, made big news in early October when the city council and mayor of that northern Italian city voted 21 to 6 to make theirs “a city that favors life.” In addition, the city council members voted to make funds available from its budget to pro-life counseling centers that help prevent abortions.
The council member who proposed the motion, Alberto Zelger, reiterated in a radio interview a slogan popularized by the Italian pro-life movement: “Abortion is not a right, it is an abominable crime.” (It rhymes in Italian: L’aborto non è un diritto, è un abominevole delitto.) To help prevent abortions, the measure allows mothers to remain anonymous while the city’s juvenile court seeks out a suitable family to adopt the newborn.
Although legal since 1978, the abortion rate in Italy has been in steady decline for years. In 2016, there were just under 85,000 abortions, of which about one-third were had by non-Italian women. In addition, the proportion of doctors who have declared themselves as conscientious objectors has reached 71 percent. The City of Verona has gone one step further in trying to halt the barbaric practice.
The majority of Verona’s legislators are members of the (Northern) League, one of the two parties that make up the national government in Rome. Their courageous decision did not go over well among the Italian political left. First there were protests by pro-abortion feminists, who had to be removed by the police from the council chamber. After the vote the (left wing) Democratic Party chiefs of the Veneto region (where Verona is located) were up in arms when they discovered that one of four party members in the Verona city council, in accordance with her conscience and deeply held beliefs, had voted in favor of the measure.
Carla Padovani is not only a council member but also happens to be the local Democratic Party leader. The more powerful regional Democrats immediately launched a verbal attack, claiming that as a legislator and party leader Ms. Padovani should have upheld Italy’s 40-year-old abortion Law 194/78 (humanlifereview.com/forty-years-of-abortion-in-italy/).
Ms. Padovani remains the target of numerous attacks from others on the Italian left, including Emma Bonino, considered the “mother” of Italy’s abortion law, who criticized the vote as “reactionary” and favoring sexual discrimination and clandestine abortions. According to the Italian press, Ms. Padovani responded that “Life must be universally respected.” Even in the Democratic Party, she added, “there are many persons who share my opinion.”
The Verona initiative may be spreading. A pro-life motion was introduced on October 25 in the city council of Milan, Italy’s second largest city, to declare Milan a “city of life” and to allocate budgetary funds to support organizations such as the city’s Centro di Aiuto alla Vita Mangiagalli (a pro-life pregnancy resource center) which since 1984 has saved nearly 22,000 innocent lives by helping women to birth and take care of their children.
Indeed times have changed in Italy. The new government that took office on June 1, formed by the (Northern) League and the Five-Star Movement, represents Italy’s new establishment, which favors life and sovereignty.
As I have written about before, the new government includes a strongly pro-life Minister for Families, Lorenzo Fontana. Coincidentally or not, Mr. Fontana hails from Verona!