FAQ - VOLUNTARY INTERRUPTION OF PREGNANCY (IVG)

Yes. In Italy women can request voluntary interruption of pregnancy (abortion) within the first 90 days of gestation for health, economic, social or family reasons. Since 1978 this intervention has been regulated by Law 194/78.

Within the first 90 days, calculated from the first day of the last menstruation, you can decide to terminate the pregnancy. The interruption is always on a voluntary basis, and is completely free of any cost.

With a positive pregnancy test result (you can buy it in any pharmacy and in many supermarkets), you can go to a family counselling centre (“consultorio familiare”) or to a doctor. You can consult the list of counselling centres on the Ministry of Health website.

The doctor must then issue a document/certificate stating your wish to terminate the pregnancy.

Please note Any doctor can make this attestation: the doctor at the consultatory, the family doctor, or any other doctor you trust.

In the preliminary interview, the doctor explains the possible alternatives to abortion and informs you of your rights, then gives you the document certifying your wish to terminate the pregnancy, which must also be signed by you. No special investigations (e.g. ultrasound scans) are necessary or required to obtain the document/certificate.

After the information interview with the doctor, you must wait 7 days before proceeding with the abortion, unless there are urgent conditions: in that case the doctor issues the certificate immediately, with which you can go to the hospital for the procedure.

Abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978. Despite this, access to abortion in Italy is difficult due to the high rate of conscientious objectors, i.e. those who refuse to perform voluntary termination of pregnancy. In Italy, doctors, anaesthetists and paramedics who are conscientious objectors exceed 70% of the total.

The Family Counselling Centre (“consultorio familiare”), with its multidisciplinary team (gynaecologist, social worker, psychologist, midwife, nurse(s)), is the structure that can help you with certification and counselling.
In addition, the counselling centre usually also provides pre-hospitalisation booking at the relevant centre, and contraceptive counselling.

You can search for the closest counselling centre to you on this website https://obiezionerespinta.info/ where you will also find valuable suggestions for contacting those facilities that are free of conscientious objectors.

Yes. International human rights law makes it clear that decisions about one’s body must be made by the individual with respect for the right to bodily autonomy and integrity.

Forcing someone to have an unwanted pregnancy, or forcing them to seek an unsafe abortion, is a violation of human rights, including the rights to privacy, autonomy and bodily integrity.

Access to abortion is linked to the protection and respect for the human rights of women, girls and others who may become pregnant, in order to achieve social and gender justice.

Read more in Amnesty International’s FAQ (see below)

Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy (abortion) is permitted during the first 90 days of pregnancy, which are counted from the first day of the last menstruation. After this period, it is only possible in cases of serious danger to the woman’s life or health.

After the 90th day, IVG is called a THERAPEUTIC ABORTION and is only permitted

– in the presence of conditions of serious danger to the woman’s life or health: e.g. a serious maternal illness.
– in the presence of abnormalities or malformations of the foetus that pose a serious danger to the woman’s psychological and physical health. These pathologies are ascertained by a doctor in the hospital service, who may be assisted by consultants or by further diagnostic tests.

There are two techniques for conducting a voluntary termination of pregnancy. If you have been pregnant for less than 49 days (7 weeks), you can choose between the surgical and pharmacological procedure. The IVG service doctors will assess whether there are any contraindications for one or the other. The pharmacological procedure can be performed in Italy up to the seventh week; the surgical procedure can be performed from the seventh week to the 14th-16th week (therefore it can also be used for therapeutic abortion, or ITG).

pharmacological method
The pharmacological method is based on taking two drugs 48 hours apart: mifepristone (RU486) and a prostaglandin (misoprostol or gemeprost).
‘Ru486 pill’ is the commercial name of Exelgyne’s drug Mifegyne (Mifeprostone), which offers a non-surgical option for the termination of pregnancy in full compliance with Law 194.

surgical method
Surgical abortion consists of the termination of an ongoing pregnancy by surgical methods. In most hospitals, abortion can be performed as an outpatient procedure, which involves same-day discharge, usually a few hours after the procedure has been performed. The operation can be performed under general or local anaesthesia, with or without sedation. The most commonly used method is ‘hysterosuction’, or ‘aspiration’.

Please note: the experience of voluntary termination of pregnancy may vary from region to region or even within the same regional territory.

In order to have an abortion, you must be accompanied by your parents or guardians (or anyone else exercising parental authority) who must sign the document with you.

If you cannot or do not want to talk to your parents/guardians, the easiest thing is to go to a counselling centre. At the counselling centre, you will be interviewed by a social worker and possibly a psychologist, who will discuss possible solutions with you and write a report for the tutelary judge at the juvenile court. The judge will in turn issue the authorisation for the abortion.

Please note: in any case, no one is authorised to contact your parents without your knowledge: neither the counselling centre, nor the tutelary judge, nor the hospital where you will have the abortion.

If you are a foreign citizen with a regular residence permit in Italy you can have health care, but you must register with the National Health Service (“Servizio Sanitario Nazionale – SSN”).

Registration with the SSN allows free access to IVG (Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy).

If you do not comply with entry and residence regulations, you can apply for the S.T.P. (Straniero Temporaneamente Presente) card, which is valid for six months throughout the national territory. It can be issued by the local health authority (ASL) or by the hospital. For more information consult the Integrazione Migranti portal.

It may happen that in the case of an IVG additional documents are requested in order to exclude the minor’s age: in the latter case, medical examinations, such as X-rays of the wrist, may be required to carry out further verification.

Please note: access to health facilities does not result in a report to the authorities.

Italy has approved an amendment (DL Pnrr, art 44) that in fact facilitates the presence and activities of anti-choice groups within the services of family counselling centres.

In fact, the amendment provides that the regions, in organising the services of family planning clinics, can ‘make use, without new or greater burdens on public finance, of the involvement of Third Sector entities that have qualified experience in maternity support’.

This means, in essence, that pro-life (anti-abortion) associations, such as Pro-Life & Family, can enter facilities where women can initiate the practice of pregnancy termination.

If you do not want to meet them, expressly state that you only want to talk to medical personnel (nurses, midwives and gynaecologists).

Remember that IVG (Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy) within the first 90 days is your right: in case of problems contact the centre closest to you

Learn more:

Guida pratica al tuo aborto libero e sicuro [ITA]
Obiezione Respinta - A map to contrast conscientious objection in Italy, provides support and information where these are lacking
The map of "Consultori" - Counselling centres (Ministry of Health)
Abortion and sexual and reproductive rights: Frequently asked questions (Amnesty International Italy)