Activists in Italy are concerned about what far-right firebrand Giorgia Meloni’s election as the new prime minister could mean for abortion rights in the country.
As Giorgia Meloni is set to become Italy’s first female prime minister, some activists in the country are concerned about what that could mean for abortion rights.
During her campaign trail, Meloni said that she would "not touch" the abortion law. She added that her party “just wants [people] to know there are other options”.
According to Emma Bonino, the leader of More Europe party and an abortion rights activist from the 1970s, Meloni is unlikely to criminalise abortion. But Bonino added that she could "push for the law to be ignored" instead.
"There are entire regions where ... the gynaecologists are all conscientious objectors," Bonino said, referring to the Marche region in central Italy, among others.
For the past two years, Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party has been in control of the area.
One of the first measures it enacted was to restrict abortions, limiting access to the procedure from nine weeks of pregnancy to just seven weeks.
And many medical professionals in the region now refuse to help end a pregnancy. Italian law allows them to refuse to perform the procedure.
“I called several people, on the phone, they said 'call this doctor.' 'That one is not here'. 'We don`t have an appointment, later,'" said one woman from the town of Ascoli Piceno in the Marche region.
“I called in other cities in Pesaro, in Ancona. No one wanted to prescribe me an abortion pill. I saw the days go by, and I was desperate."
And her story is not unique.
"We have plenty of stories like this, too many,” said a woman from the area's family planning office.
"Elsewhere, women are forced to move to another region, to have an illegal abortion, to go abroad or even not to have an abortion."
It has also been difficult to obtain an abortion in Umbria, where the right-wing Lega has come into power.
In one hospital in Perugia, which is in the Umbria region, 80% of its doctors refuse to give the procedure.
Other people are also worried about their rights being rolled back after Meloni's win, such as the country’s LGBTQ+ and migrant communities.
She has previously railed against LGBTQ+ rights and mass migration.
In a speech in June, Meloni said: "Yes to natural families, no to the LGBT lobby! Yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology! Yes to the culture of life, no to the abyss of death!"