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Italy legalised abortion in 1978. Any woman in Italy has 90 days (12 weeks) from the date of conception to request a termination of pregnancy.
Under the law, the termination must be due to health, economic, social or family reasons. A pregnant woman must get proof as to the state of the pregnancy from her local doctor (general practitioner) or from a maternal health care clinic, which will then make the appointments with the hospital.
An abortion may only be carried out in a public hospital. It is free to women who have an Italian health card; foreign women have to pay for the procedure. There are no special abortion clinics in Italy.
After 90 days a termination is only permitted if there is a threat to the life or health of the pregnant woman. For an abortion to be carried out for medical reasons, the mother's health or life must be endangered if she carries the child to term, or there must be a problem with the foetus. In these cases, the termination can be carried out up to 20 weeks after conception.
The word aborto can mean either a miscarriage or an abortion, but the phrase interruzione volontaria di gravidanza literally translates to "voluntary interruption of a pregnancy".
The father does not need to give his authorisation for the termination.
If the pregnant person is a minor, under 18 years of age, she must have the consent of either parents or guardians, or the decision can be deferred to a judge.
Though abortion is legal in Italy, on the grounds of the conscience clause not all physicians in Italy are willing to perform the procedure.
Once the decision is made to terminate a pregnancy, the physician must issue a certificate of consent, sign it and ensure the pregnant women signs. Except in urgent cases, there is a seven-day period of reflection before the abortion can be carried out.
In the event of contraceptive failure, an emergency contraceptive pill (pillola del giorno dopo) is available by prescription. It prevents the implantation of a fertilised egg and should be taken as soon after having un-protected sex as possible and within 72 hours at the latest (though it may be effective for up to five days after intercourse). The pill is sold under the brand names Levonelle, UnLevo or NorLevo. A prescription is required, which can be obtained from a doctor or hospital.
RU-486 (Mifegyne) is a pill used under medical supervision in a hospital that terminates a pregnancy within 49 days after implantation of the fertilised egg. It is legal in Italy however some regional governments have opposed the use and therefore the drug may not be readily accessible in all localities.