ITALY. Law No. 194 of
22 May 1978 on the social protection of motherhood and the voluntary
termination of pregnancy. (Gazzetta Uficialee della Repubblica
Italiana, Part I, 2 May 1978, No. 140, pp. 3642-3646).
1. The State guarantees
the right to responsible and planned parenthood, recognizes the
social value of motherhood, and shall protect human life from
The voluntary termination of pregnancy as covered
by this Law shall not be a means of birth control.
The State, the regions, and local authorities, acting
within their respective powers and areas of competence, shall
promote and develop medicosocial services and shall take other
measures necessary to prevent abortion from being used for purposes
of birth control.
2. The family counselling
centres [consultori familiari] established by Law No. 405 of 29
July 1975 shall assist any pregnant woman, subject to the provisions
of that Law:
a) by informing her of her rights under State and
regional legislation and of the social, health, and welfare services
actually available from agencies in her areas;
b) by informing her of appropriate ways to take
advantage of the provisions of labour legislation designed to
protect the pregnant woman;
c) by taking special action, or suggesting such
action to the competent local authority or social welfare agencies
in the area, wherever pregnancy or motherhood create problems
which cannot be satisfactorily dealt with by normal action under
d) by helping to overcome the factors which might
lead the woman to have her pregnancy terminated.
For the purposes of this Law, the counselling centres
may make use of voluntary assistance, on the basis of pertinent
regulations or agreements, from appropriate basic social welfare
organizations and voluntary associations, which may also assist
mothers in difficulties after the child is born.
The necessary means for achieving freely chosen objectives
with regard to responsible parenthood may also be supplied to
minors by health agencies and counselling centres, against a medical
3. [Financial provisions]
4. In order to undergo
termination of pregnancy during the first 90 days, women whose
situation is such that continuation of the pregnancy, childbirth,
or motherhood would seriously endanger their physical or mental
health, in view of their state of health, their economic, social,
or family circumstances, the circumstances in which conception
occurred, or the probability that the child would be born with
abnormalities or malformations, shall apply to a public counselling
centre established under item (a) of Section 2 of Law No.
405 of 29 Jul 1975 or to a fully authorized medicosocial agency
[struttura socio-sanitaria] in the region, or to a physician of
5. In all cases, in addition
to guaranteeing the necessary medical examinations, counselling
centres and medicosocial agencies shall be required, especially
when the request for termination of pregnancy is motivated by
the impact of economic, social, or family circumstances upon the
pregnant women's health, to examine possible solutions to the
problems in consultation with the woman and, where the woman consents,
with the father of the conceptus, with due respect for the dignity
and personal feelings of the woman and the person named as the
father of the conceptus, to help her to overcome the factors which
would lead her to have her pregnancy terminated, to enable her
to take advantage of her rights as a working woman and a mother,
and to encourage any suitable measures designed to support the
woman, by providing her with all necessary assistance both during
her pregnancy and after the delivery.
Where the woman applies to a physician of her choice,
he shall: carry out the necessary medical examinations, with
due respect for the woman's dignity and freedom; assess, in consultation
with the woman and, where the woman consents, with the father
of the conceptus, with due respect for the dignity and personal
feelings of the woman and of the person named as the father of
the conceptus, if so desired taking account of the result of the
examinations referred to above, the circumstances leading her
to request that her pregnancy be terminated; and infomrm her of
her rights and of the social welfare facilities available to her,
as well as regarding the counselling centres and the medicosocial
Where the physician at the counselling centre or
the medicosocial agency, or the physician of the woman's choice,
finds that in view of the circumstances termination is urgently
required, he shall immediately issue the woman a certificate attesting
to the urgency of the case. Once she has been issued this certificate,
the woman may report to one of the establishments authorized to
perform pregnancy terminations.
If termination is not found to be urgently required,
the physician at the counselling centre or the medicosocial agency,
or the physician of the woman's choice, shall at the end of the
consultation, if the woman requests that her pregnancy be terminated
on account of circumstances referred to in Section 4, issue her
a copy of a document signed by himself and the woman attesting
that the woman is pregnant and that the request has been made,
and shall request her to reflect for seven days. After seven
days have elapsed, the woman may take the document issued to her
under the terms of this paragraph and report to one of the authorized
establishments in order for her pregnancy to be terminated.
6. Voluntary termination
of pregnancy may be performed after the first 90 days:
a) where the pregnancy or childbirth entails a serious
threat to the woman's life;
b) where the pathological processes constituting
a serious threat to the woman's physical or mental health, such
as those associated with serious abnormalities or malformations
of the fetus, have been diagnosed.
7. The pathological processes
referred to in the preceding Section shall be diagnosed and certified
by a physician on the staff of the department of obstetrics and
gynaecology of the hospital establishment in which the termination
is to be performed. The physician may call upon the assistance
of specialists. The physician shall be required to forward the
documentation on the case as well as his certificate to the medical
director of the hospital in order for the termination to be performed
Where the termination of pregnancy is necessary in
view of an imminent threat to the woman's life, it may be performed
without observing the procedures referred to in the preceding
paragraph and in a place other than those referred to in Section
8. In such cases, the physician shall be required to notify the
provincial medical officer.
Where it is possible that the fetus may be viable
[sussiste la possibilità di vita autonoma del feto], pregnancy
may be terminated only in the case referred to in item (a)
of Section 6, and the physician performing the termination shall
take any appropriate action to save the life of the fetus.
8. Pregnancy terminations
shall be performed by a physician on the staff of the department
of obstetrics and gynaecology of a general hospital as referred
to in Section 20 of Law No. 132 of 12 February 1968; this physician
must also confirm that there are no medical contraindications.
Pregnancy terminations may likewise be carried out
in specialized public hospitals, the institutes and establishments
referred to in the penultimate paragraph of Section 1 of Law No.
132 of 12 February 1968, and the institutions referred to in Law
No. 817 of 26 November 1973 and Decree No. 754 of 18 June 1958
of the President of the Republic, wherever the competent administrative
agencies so request.
During the first 90 days, pregnancy terminations
may also be performed in nursing homes that are authorized by
the regions and have the requisite medical equipment and adequate
obstetric and gynaecological services.
The Minister of Health shall issue a decree restricting
the capacity of authorized nursing homes to carry out terminations
of pregnancy, by establishing:
1. the percentage of pregnancy terminations that
may be performed relative to the total number of surgical operations
performed during the preceding year at the particular nursing
2. the percentage of patient-days allowed for pregnancy-termination
cases in relation to the total number of patient-days in the preceding
year under conventions with the regions.
The percentages referred to in items 1 and 2 shall
be not less than 20% and shall be the same for all nursing homes.
Nursing homes may select the criterion which they
will observe from the two set out above.
During the first 90 days, pregnancy terminations
may likewise be performed, following the establishment of local
medicosocial units, at adequately equipped public outpatient clinics
[poliaambulatori pubblici], operating under the hospitals and
licensed by the regions.
The certificate issued under the third paragraph
of Section 5 and, after seven days have elapsed, the document
delivered to the woman under the fourth paragraph of the same
Section shall entitle her to obtain, on an emergency basis, the
termination and, where necessary, hospitalization.
9. Health personnel and
allied health personnel shall not be required to assist in the
procedures referred to in Sections 5 and 7 or in pregnancy terminations
if they have a conscientious objection, declared in advance.
Such declaration must be forwarded to the provincial medical officer
and, in the case of personnel on the staff of the hospital or
the nursing home, to the medical director, not later than one
month following the entry into force of this Law, or the date
of qualification, or the date of commencement of employment at
an establishment required to provide services for the termination
of pregnancy, or the date of the drawing up of a convention with
insurance agencies entailing the provision of such services.
The objection may be withdrawn at any time, or may
be submitted after the periods prescribed in the preceding paragraph,
in which case the declaration shall take effect one month after
it has been submitted to the provincial medical officer.
Conscientious objection shall exempt health personnel
and allied health personnel from carrying out procedures and activities
specifically and necessarily designed to bring about the termination
of pregnancy, and shall not exempt them from providing care prior
to and following the termination.
In all cases, hospital establishments and authorized
nursing homes shall be required to ensure that the procedures
referred to in Section 7 are carried out and pregnancy terminations
requested in accordance with the procedures referred to in Sections
5, 7, and 8 are performed. The regions shall supervise and ensure
implementation of this requirement, if necessary by the movement
[mobilità] of personnel.
Conscientious objection may not be invoked by health
personnel or allied health personnel if, under the particular
circumstances, their personal intervention is essential in order
to save the life of a woman in imminent danger.
Conscientious objection shall be deemed to have been
withdrawn with immediate effect if the objector assists in procedures
or pregnancy terminations provided for under this Law, in cases
other than those referred to in the preceding paragraph.
11. The hospital establishment,
the nursing home, or the outpatient clinic in which the termination
has been performed shall be required to submit to the competent
provincial medical officer a declaration by the physician performing
the termination stating that the termination has taken place and
indicating the documentation on the basis of which it was performed,
without disclosing the woman's identity.
Items (b) and (f) of Section 103 of
the Public Health Code, approved by Crown Decree No. 1265 of 27
July 1934, shall be repealed.
12. Requests for pregnancy
termination under the procedures prescribed by this Law shall
be made in person by the woman.
Where the woman is under 18 years of age, the consent
of the person exercising parental authority over the woman or
her guardian shall be required for the termination of pregnancy.
However, during the first 90 days, if there are serious grounds
rendering it impossible or inadvisable to consult the persons
exercising parental authority or the guardian, or if those persons
are consulted but refuse their consent or express conflicting
opinions, the counselling centre or medicosocial agency, or the
physician of the woman's choice, shall carry out the duties and
procedures set out in Section 5 and submit to the magistrate responsible
for matters of guardianship [giudice tutelare] in the locality
in which it (he) operates, not later than seven days following
the request, a report giving its (his) views on the matter. Within
five days, after interviewing the woman and taking account of
her wishes, the grounds which she puts forward, and the report
submitted to him, the magistrate may issue a decision, which shall
not be subject to appeal, authorizing the woman to have her pregnancy
Where the physician finds that termination is urgently
required in view of a serious threat to the health of a woman
under 18 years of age, he shall make out a certificate indicating
the conditions justifying the termination of pregnancy, without
requesting the consent of the persons exercising parental authority
or the guardian and without applying to the magistrate. The certificate
shall entitle the woman to obtain, on an emergency basis, the
termination and, where necessary, hospitalization.
In the case of a pregnancy termination after the
first 90 days, the procedures referred to in Section 7 shall likewise
be applicable to women under 18 years of age, without regard to
the consent of the persons exercising parental authority or the
13. Where the woman is
under civil disability on account of a mental illness, the request
referred to in Sections 4 and 6 may be submitted, if not by the
woman in person, by her curator or, if he is not her curator,
by her husband, provided that he is not legally separated.
Where the request is submitted by the woman under
disability or by her husband, the views of the curator must be
heard. A request submitted by the curator or the husband must
be confirmed by the woman.
The physician at the counselling centre or the medicosocial
agency, or the physician of the woman's choice, shall submit to
the magistrate responsible for matters of guardianship, not more
than seven days following the submission of the request, a report
containing details of the request and its source, any particular
attitude displayed by the woman, the degree and nature of the
mental disorder, and the curator's views if expressed.
Not later than five days following the date on which
the report is received, the magistrate, having interviewed the
interested parties if he considers this advisable, shall issue
a decision which shall not be subject to appeal.
The decision issued by the magistrate shall have
the effects referred to in the last paragraph of Section 8.
14. The physician performing
the pregnancy termination shall be required to supply the woman
with information and instructions on birth control and to acquaint
her with the abortion procedures, which must, however, be carried
out with all due respect for the woman's personal dignity.
In the presence of pathological processes, such as
those associated with abnormalities or malformations of the fetus,
the physician carrying out the pregnancy termination shall supply
the woman with the necessary details for the prevention of such
15. Acting in collaboration
with the universities and hospital establishments, the regions
shall promote the refresher training of health personnel and allied
health personnel concerning problems of responsible and planned
parenthood, contraceptive methods, the various stages of pregnancy,
childbirth, and the use of the more modern techniques of pregnancy
termination which are physically and mentally less damaging to
the woman and are less hazardous. In addition, the regions shall
promote courses and meetings which may be attended both by health
personnel and allied health personnel and by persons wishing to
be informed on matters concerning sex education, the various stages
of pregnancy, childbirth, contraceptive methods, and techniques
of pregnancy termination.
In order to guarantee implementation of the provisions
of Sections 2 and 5, the regions shall draw up an annual programme
of refresher training and information on State and regional legislation,
as well as on the social, health, and welfare services available
in the region.
16. Not later than February
of each year, starting from the year following that in which this
Law enters into force, the Minister of Health shall present to
Parliament a report on the implementation of the Law and its effects,
including reference to the problem of prevention.
The regions shall be required to supply the necessary
information by January of each year, using questionnaires provided
by the Minister.
A similar report shall be presented by the Minister
of Mercy and Justice with regard to matters within the specific
competence of his Ministry.
17. Any person who criminally
causes a woman to terminate her pregnancy shall be liable to from
three months' to two years' imprisonment.
Any person who criminally causes a woman to give
birth prematurely shall be liable to the penalty indicated in
the preceding paragraph, reduced by one-half.
In the cases referred to in the preceding paragraphs,
if the act is committed in contravention of labour protection
standards, the penalty shall be increased.
18. Any person inducing
a pregnancy termination without the consent of the woman shall
be liable to from four to eight years' imprisonment. Consent
extracted by violence or threats or under false pretences shall
be deemed not to have been granted.
The same penalty shall be applicable to any person
who brings about a pregnancy termination by actions designed to
injure the woman.
This penalty shall be reduced by one-half if the
injuries result in the hastening of childbirth.
If the woman dies as a result of the acts referred
to in the first and second paragraphs, the penalty shall be from
eight to 16 years' imprisonment; where very grave personal injury
is the result, the penalty shall be from six to 12 years' imprisonment;
where grave personal injury is the result, the latter penalty
shall be reduced.
The penalties laid down under the preceding paragraphs
shall be increased if the woman is under 18 years of age.
19. Any person who induces
a voluntary termination of pregnancy while failing to observe
the conditions laid down in Sections 5 or 8 shall be liable to
up to three years' imprisonment.
The woman shall be liable to a fine of up to 100,000
Where voluntary termination of pregnancy occurs without
the medical examination provided for under items (a) and
(b) of Section 6 or in any event without observing the
conditions laid down in Section 7, the person bringing about such
termination shall be liable to from one to four years' imprisonment.
The woman shall be liable to up to six months' imprisonment.
Where voluntary termination of pregnancy is performed
upon a woman who is under 18 years of age or who is under civil
disability, in cases other than those laid down in Section 12
and 13 or while failing to observe the conditions laid down in
those Sections, the person bringing about such termination shall
be liable to the corresponding penalties laid down in the preceding
paragraphs, increased by up to one-half. The woman shall not
be liable to any penalty.
Where the woman dies as a result of the acts referred
to in the preceding paragraphs, the penalty shall be from three
to seven years' imprisonment; where very grave personal injury
is the result, the penalty shall be from two to five years' imprisonment;
where grave personal injury is the result, the latter penalty
shall be reduced.
The penalties laid down under the preceding paragraph
shall be increased if the woman dies or is injured as a result
of the acts referred to in the fifth paragraph.
20. The penalties laid
down under Sections 18 and 19 with regard to persons bringing
about a pregnancy termination shall be increased if the offence
is committed by a person who has expressed a conscientious objection
under the terms of Section 9.
21. Except in the cases
indicated under Section 326 of the Penal Code, any person who
reveals the identity, or in any way divulges information liable
to reveal the identity, of any person who has had recourse to
the procedures or operations referred to in this Law, such knowledge
having come to him through his professional or official activities,
shall be liable to the penalties laid down under Section 622 of
the Penal Code.
22. Title X of Book II
of the Penal Code shall be repealed.
In addition, item 3 of the first paragraph and item
5 of the second paragraph of Section 583 of the Penal Code shall
Except where an irrevocable sentence has already
been pronounced, no person shall be punishable for the crime of
abortion with the woman's consent prior to the entry into force
of this Law, if the magistrate confirms that the conditions stipulated
under Sections 4 and 6 have been observed.
This Law, bearing the seal of the State, shall be incorporated in the official collection of laws and decrees of the Italian Republic. All those concerned shall be required to comply and to ensure compliance with it as a law of the State.