In early June, the Ministry of Health published the Annual Report on the Application of Law 194/78, a document that collects data and information on the right to abortion in Italy. Although this is an official report, drawn up on the basis of information gathered by individual structures and by the Regions, the report it provides is only a blurred picture of access to abortion in our country.
The ministry’s reports, in fact, are released very late (the one published this year refers to the 2020 data) and only contain data divided by Regions. Based on this subdivision, the report just published states that “in 2020 the Regions reported that 64.6% of gynecologists presented conscientious objection, a value slightly lower than in 2019, the 44.6% of anesthetists and 36.2% of non-medical staff. [con] large regional variations for all three categories “.
On the other hand, according to the cartography carried out by the “May 194 Data Act”, the collection of data from each structure through a request for civic access made by Chiara Lalli and Sonia Montegiove, these “wide regional variations” are translate into the fact that “There are 11 regions in which there is at least one hospital with 100% of the objectors: Abruzzo, Basilicata, Campania, Lombardy, Marche, Piedmont, Puglia, Sicily, Tuscany, Umbria, Veneto”, while “There are 22 hospitals and 4 clinics with 100% objection among gynecologists, anesthetists, nurses and OSS.”
Therefore, access to abortion in Italy remains very difficult, if not impossible, for people living in regions where the rate of conscientious objectors is higher, and is further penalized by the lack of clear and timely information. To these problems is then added stigma: despite being a right, abortion is systematically considered and explained as a source of pain, suffering, and trauma for those who choose it. But does this narrative fully reflect reality?
“Everyone can live abortion as they please, but no one has the right to tell you how to do it,” says psychologist and clinical psychotherapist Federica Di Martino, who in 2018 founded the platform “IVG I aborted and I’m well “. “.” The inspiration for this project comes from the French platform IVG: I’m fine, thank youalso created to question the “unique” narrative of abortion we are struggling to get out of, ”explains Di Martino, who in recent years has collected and posted on social media thousands of stories of people who have had abortions inspired by the practice of self-esteem awareness of feminist groups of the seventies.
Like more than fifty years ago in these groups, Di Martino’s platform is a place where abortion is explained in all its complexity. “I define myself as an abortionist, while people who are not in favor of abortion are, consequently, anti-abortionists. I believe that recovering this word is the first step to understanding and making it clear that abortion is a practice we should not be ashamed of, but should reappropriate. That’s not to say I don’t support those who decide to continue a pregnancy, on the contrary, I’ve often provided assistance to people who have finally chosen not to have an abortion. Being an abortionist basically means recognizing a right, ”explains the psychotherapist.
From the outset, however, the initiative has drawn criticism not only from anti-abortionists, but also from supporters of the right to abortion. The name of the project is obviously a provocation (after an abortion you can not only feel good, but even very good!), So we were expecting criticism from the abortion movements. The resistance that comes, however, from people who are in favor of abortion in my opinion is given by the fact that the debate on this issue stops in 1978, or the year of the passage of the law 194 “, the law that guarantees the right to abortion. abortion in Italy within the first 90 of gestation, says the psychologist.
“Beyond the fact that it is a lacunar law, firm in a society that is not today’s, and that even if applied zealously would still provide for the existence of a personal objector, the big problem is that while the anti-abortion movement has fueled an internal discussion about abortion, the people who support it have not, ”says Di Martino.
On the one hand, in fact, the word “abortion” is scary and is often replaced by other much more technical terms such as “voluntary termination of pregnancy” (which comes from the medical field) or “access to 194” (legal term). On the other hand, “there is a lack of work to deconstruct our internal biases. Defending the right to abortion means, in short, supporting the self-determination of people, or the possibility that each and every one can not only live but also explain an experience in the way they prefer. In our society, stories about abortion are silenced or dramatized, ”says Di Martino, referring to the different stories of pain and suffering that the media spreads.
“When a famous person talks about abortion it is immediately a‘ confession ’, as if it were a sin. Articles of this type are usually accompanied by images of broken eggs, of eight-month pregnant people. Why use the image of a pregnancy when I talk about abortion? What is the message I want to give when I talk about a child instead of a fetus or a mother instead of a pregnant woman? ”Asks the psychotherapist.
Even the Ministry of Health’s website dedicated to voluntary termination of pregnancy is no exception to this unique narrative of abortion. In addition to sharing stories of people who have had abortions, since 2019 the platform is also responsible for accompanying people who have chosen to have an abortion but do not know how to do it. Shortly after the launch of the platform we began to receive many requests for help, to which we responded with the campaign “We are well together”, a free support service through which volunteers and volunteers of the area help those who contact us “. explains Di Martino.
“I will always remember a girl who wrote to me to tell me that I didn’t know much about abortion and that I didn’t have a car, but that I knew how to make delicious cakes and that I knew how to support myself. In short, the spirit of the project is precisely this “, adds the psychotherapist. “Every person who writes to us has a story and that story sticks to me, whether I face it personally or not. Many other people don’t ask us for help, but they thank us for the stories we’ve shared. In the end, we know we’ve done something good for them. ”