Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Italy gradually turning away from abortion

We are grateful to Vincenzina Santoro for her excellent article on the falling abortion rates in Italy, published recently on Mercatornet

For the purpose of this BLOG I have simply quoted from the article however the full text can be viewed on this link
The recently released 2009 report on abortion – which the Ministry of Health presents to Parliament each year – confirms another drop in the number of abortions and in the abortion rate. Abortion, which was legalized in Italy in 1978, reached a peak of 234,801 cases in 1982. In 2009, 116,933 abortions were performed, a decline of 3.6 percent from the previous year – a figure that for the first time was less than half the number in the peak year. The numbers have declined consistently for the last five years.

The abortion rate for women of child-bearing years (15-49), a more meaningful measurement of abortion prevalence, in 2009 showed a result of 8.3 per 1,000 women, a 3.9 percent decline from the previous year. In 1982, the ratio had been 17.2 per 1,000.

Interestingly, abortions have declined for all age segments of child-bearing women and are particularly low for minors especially when compared with other developed countries. For females under age 20, in 2008 the abortion rate was 7.2 per 1,000 in Italy, down from 7.5 the year before, and differed sharply compared with 13.5 for Spain, 15.6 for France (2007 data), and 20.5 for the United States (2004). Only Germany had a lower rate of 5.0 per 1,000.

Observing a divergence in trends, since the mid 1990s the Ministry of Health began disaggregating data to show abortions by both Italian and foreign women in Italy. The abortion rate for foreign women alone has continued to rise since data commenced, and for 2008, the latest data available, foreign women accounted for 33 percent of all abortions in Italy, compared with 10 percent in 1998. Were it not for the foreigners, Italy’s abortion total and abortion rate would be even lower. Compared with 1982, the number of Italian women having recourse to abortion dropped by nearly two-thirds – by 65.2 percent to be exact!

The trends indicate that the most rapid decline in abortions has occurred among the more highly educated, the employed and married women. In 2008, among Italian women having abortions, 45 percent reported not having any children, compared with 33 percent for foreign women. About half of both groups were married.

Data for repeat abortions (second or higher) showed that in 2008 the rate held steady at 27 percent, of which 22 percent was applicable to Italian women and over 37 percent to foreign women. By this yardstick, Italy again compared favorably with such countries as Spain (34 percent), Sweden (38 percent) and the United States (47 percent)

The growing number of foreign women resorting to abortion has been attributed to increased immigration, failed contraception practices, and looser attitudes towards terminating a pregnancy held by women from foreign countries especially by Eastern Europeans who accounted for 52 percent of non-Italian abortions. In 2009, foreigners comprised 7 percent of Italy’s resident population of 60.3 million.

Vincenzina looks at international comparisons and has included an interesting compilation in her article showing comparative abortion rates for 19 countries which show that only four European countries have lower abortion rates. She also looks at comparative figures for contraceptive prevalence in those countries.