A 1978 law that made first trimester abortions legal in Italy came under fire today when thousands opposed to the law (including some intrepid American pro-lifers) convened in Rome during a Mother's Day protest. The Associated Press reports that a motley crew of nuns, priests, and lay people took advantage of the maternal holiday to voice their displeasure with Italy's already restrictive abortion law, which seems almost paradoxical in its scope: though abortions are restricted to the first 90 days of pregnancy, women can obtain an abortion for any number of health, economic, or social reasons, or even the circumstances under which a pregnancy occured (i.e. rape or incest), and abortions are also provided free-of-charge in public hospitals or private buildings with government authorization.
Stalwart secular supporters upheld the law with 68 percent of the vote during a 1981 referendum after nearly four years of clashes with the church. However, women in Italy maintained a relatively tenuous grasp on their newly-won abortion rights, with another referendum that sought to eliminate the 90-day restriction being soundly defeated by 88.4 percent of voters.