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The Roman Catholic Church has warned it will excommunicate anyone who takes the abortion pill, following the decision by Italy’s drugs regulation agency to authorise its use.

The Italian Pharmaceutical Agency approved the abortion pill on Thursday, resisting pressure from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the catholic church who wanted it banned. “Human suffering cannot be treated this way,” said Monsignor Elio Sgreccia of the Pontifical Academy for Life. “A woman cannot be helped in this way, mankind cannot be helped in this way and if it’s true that we need new lives and more children, in this way we are going in the opposite direction.” Abortion is already legal in Italy but practitioners and patients are excommunicated and Monsignor Sgreccia said the same rules would apply for the pill. “For what concerns excommunication, there’s nothing new, because it was applied for surgical abortion and it is applied for this kind of abortion too, because it’s the action that puts the faithful against the church.” The abortion pill will now be available in hospitals for those wanting to terminate pregnancies of up to 49 days, if they can find a doctor to prescribe it – around 60 per cent of Italian doctors refuse to authorise abortions.
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