The practice came to light only last week after one of the women, who was keenly interested in local newspapers after reading about the so-called “fields of angels”, discovered a plot with a wooden cross in which her name And the date was. The fetus was buried in Prima Port Cemetery. She later posted on Facebook about her experience.
Despite the procedure being legalized in 1978, more than 100 women have come together in Italy for a possible class action over the difficulties in women getting safe abortions, which have also rejected the debate in Italy.
Differenza Donna, an activist group that filed complaints with Rome’s prosecutors, said there had been a serious violation of women’s human rights and privacy.
There are two volumes containing hundreds of remains of embryonic tombs, some in Prima Porta in 2012. Some old wooden crosses are piled on the ground, a sign that the grave has to be refilled.
Francesca, 36, said she nearly fainted after discovering a plot containing the remains of her unborn daughter with her name on it. She terminated the pregnancy in six months due to the fetus being deformed and unlikely to survive for the full duration. In September 2019, a hospital agreed to carry out this procedure.
As with all other women, Francesca did not consent to a burial. In Italy, embryos of pregnancies ending after three months can be buried in hospitals, but only with the mother’s permission.
“After the immense pain of losing her daughter, it was terrible to trace the handiwork of this animal,” Francesca, who asked not to publish her surname, told the Guardian.
The date was at the grave in December 2019, three months after the abortion.
“I repeatedly asked the hospital what happened to the fetus and they convinced me that it was thrown away,” Francesca said. “So where was it for three months? Then it must be buried with the symbol of a cross, which I do not follow, and with my name on it – it felt like a punishment. ”
ASL, the local health authority, has not yet made any comment, but Rome’s San Camillo Hospital, where the woman first exposed the issue, had an abortion, has denied responsibility.
The hospital said in a statement that the remains of the fetus were identified only in the mother’s name for transportation and burial permits. These details were then given to Ama, a public service company managing Rome’s cemeteries.
“The entire activities related to the transport, management, and funerals of the fetus are Ama’s full and exclusive capacity,” the statement said. “Hospitals and ASL in no way contribute to any choice regarding burial activities.”
Ama also denied responsibility, stating that it buryed on the instructions of the Health Authority. Due to the database maintained by the cemetery, the women were able to locate the plots.
Former Health Minister Livia Turko believes anti-abortion groups are behind the practice of exposing mother’s names on graves.
A law has been allowed to update since 1990 as it was created more than 50 years ago by the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini. Anti-abortion, Catholic and far-right groups have for years been inspired to create an “arena of angels”, often finding support among local politicians or those working within public institutions.
But Turko, who was health minister between 2006 and 2008, activists and gynecologists say he was not yet aware of the practice of naming mothers at graves.
Turko said, “The question of privacy is serious and we need to find out who is responsible.” “But it is clear that this initiative is the fruit of a mobilization brought forward by Catholic groups that we have rarely underestimated – not only in Rome, but throughout Italy. They probably built relationships within institutions and therefore found complexity. Gone. ”
As they await clarity, activists are calling for the intervention of Rome’s City Hall and the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza.
Differnza Donna chair Alyssa Ercoli said that dozens of calls a day continued to be received from all over Italy.
“We have surpassed dating from 2012 to 2020, but by 2005 all the women we are referring to,” she said. “There must be a process that was arranged by agreements, but for what purpose? Who made these decisions and in whose interest? ”
Women in Italy struggle for safe abortion due to the high number of gynecologists who still refuse to terminate pregnancies for ethical reasons. Seven out of 10 doctors in Italy are “moral objectors”.
Silvana Agatone, one of the few gynecologists who miscarried in Rome before her retirement, said she knew that burial grounds exist for embryos but nothing is found in Prima Port cemetery.
“Such cemeteries have been in operation since 1937 and what did it mean for women at the time this law was enacted?” he said. He said, “Then the people of the group were right and they exploited it with their ‘fields of angels’. No one went to check who’s name on the tomb – I would never have imagined that.”
Only five hospitals in Rome and anyone in the wider Lazio region can use abortions due to the lack of medics performing them.
“I was in a lot of pain after my miscarriage, I screamed and screamed for seven hours, but no one came into the room to help because they were all morally objectionable,” Francesca said. “You can’t have an abortion in a civilized way even though there is a law in Italy – and that’s what we need to discuss more.”