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Abortion causes rift between Italy and France in G7 debates

Italy has demanded the removal of a reference to “safe and legal abortion” from the final declaration of this week’s Group of Seven summit, diplomats said on Thursday, drawing a rebuke from French President Emmanuel Macron.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni reacted quickly, accusing Macron of trying to score political points ahead of national elections in France later this month.

The dispute between the two European leaders, who have very different political views, has undermined efforts to showcase Western unity at this year’s annual G7 meeting in southern Italy.

The 2023 G7 statement released after the leaders’ summit in Hiroshima, Japan, which hosted the event last year, called for “access to safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care”.

Similar or slightly tougher language was proposed by French and Canadian diplomats during the usual negotiations that took place ahead of the 2024 meeting hosted by Italy’s conservative Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

“All other countries supported them, but it was a red line for Meloni, so it is missing from the final text,” a diplomat told Reuters.

Macron later told reporters he regretted the decision.

“You don’t have the same sensibilities in your country,” Macron told an Italian reporter. “France has a vision of equality between women and men, but it is not a vision shared across the political spectrum.”

Macron surprised his nation on Sunday by dissolving Parliament and ordering early elections after his party was defeated by the far right in European Union elections.

“Deeply wrong”

Meloni leads a national conservative party that traces its roots to a neo-fascist group, and she has clashed with Macron in the past, notably over his hard line on immigration.

On Thursday, she said there was no reason to create controversy over the issue.

“I think it is deeply wrong, in difficult times like these, to campaign (for an election) using a precious forum like the G7,” Meloni told journalists.

A senior Italian diplomat confirmed that the word “abortion” would not appear in the final statement, but said this was only because the statement made clear that the G7 continued to support the objectives of the Hiroshima Declaration.

“This story was invented and has no substance,” said the diplomat.

However, signaling that there was broader unease regarding Italy’s position, a senior US official told journalists that President Joe Biden also did not want the reference to abortion to disappear from the text.

“The president felt strongly that we needed to have at least language that referenced what we did in Hiroshima on women’s health and reproductive rights,” the official said.

He confirmed that if the word “abortion” did not appear, then the 2024 statement would in fact reiterate the commitment made a year ago in Japan.

Abortion is an extremely sensitive issue in the United States, with Biden promising to revive the widespread right to abortion if he is re-elected in November, warning that his Republican opponent, Donald Trump, could sign a national ban on the practice.

Meloni is firmly against abortion, revealing in a recent autobiography that her mother came close to aborting her before deciding to keep the pregnancy.

Italy’s ruling coalition sparked outrage in some quarters in April after it passed legislation allowing “motherhood-supporting” groups to enter abortion counseling clinics to try to dissuade women from ending their pregnancies.

Source: CNN Brasil

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