Abortion in Italy is legal. But of course, it is a scary process to go through, especially if you have to alone. And certain areas of Italy you might find it harder to find information or doctors willing to help. Doctors in Italy have the right to refuse you and refuse to do the procedure. Since you are on a timeline, it’s important to understand the process so you are ready as soon as you need. Let’s look at how getting an abortion in Italy works.
Can you really get an abortion in Italy?
Yes! But you need to get a few permissions signed off by doctors, and you need to have an available clinic. By law, every hospital in Italy should have a certain percentage of doctors that are pro-choice, but in reality, there are many areas where the so called “conscientious objectors” are the majority or only option.
In this case, you need to hop around a few hospitals and might even need to take a long trip. But know there is the option available out there. If you go through public healthcare the process will be entirely free. If you do not have your tessera sanitaria or need to go through a clinic, the process will cost about 1000€.
When can you get an abortion in Italy?
You are legally allowed to get an abortion up to 90 days into the pregnancy. However some doctors make the timeline end at 10 weeks, this seems to depend on the clinic itself. In the early weeks, you can take a pill, but after 8/10 weeks you will need to do a light surgery at the hospital. (Certain doctors had told me 8, while others had said 10, I haven’t been able to clarify if this is dependent on doctor, region or other factors)
When you choose to keep a baby, if you find there is a problem developmentally or physically with the baby, you are allowed to abort before 21 weeks. Learn more here.
Where can you get an abortion?
Most commonly this is a process that happens through the public hospitals. Though first, you need to be in contact with a Consultorio Familiare. In Torino, Sant’Anna hospital takes care of abortion, and in Rome, you can check out San Camillo hospital. Here is a full list of hospitals in Italy that offer the service.
Using the pill
If you catch your pregnancy early on and are immediately ready to follow through with an abortion, your first step is to get in touch with a gynaecologist, medico di base, or a consultorio familiare. However, as we know medico di base and consultorio might have a longer waiting time for an appointment. Given the situation and timing, I would recommend going to a trusted private gynaecologist or consulting on doctorsinitaly.com for a EN speaking video consultation.
From there you will probably have to have a little chat with them, but then they should be able to give you the prescription for the pill right away. Take your prescription to the pharmacy, and you will be able to take the pill and do everything at home.
It is recommended you have someone with you while you take it, in the case anything feels off, and also for emotional support.
The process of IVG Surgery- Abortion in Italy
There is kind of 2 first steps to getting an abortion in Italy. So the first thing you will need is an official letter from a pharmacy stating you really are pregnant called a Certificato di Gravidanza.
Go to the pharmacy and ask for this. They may then ask you to step in and take a test there, or possibly bring back a cup of your pee to do the test.
Then you need to do is get an appointment with your doctor, or the local ” Consultorio Familiare”. Have a look at your local ASL and call the offices directly. Some don’t need appointments but better to go ahead and make one.
Here, if you get an appointment with your doctor they may then refer you to the Consultorio. (Take a deep breath, it is Italy, remember everyone has their own way of doing things.) Then the possible second first step is getting an official pregnancy test. The order of things is a little mixed, but these are two necessary first steps.
Bring the Consultorio your Pregnancy certificate, an ID, a Tessera Sanitaria if you have it, plus your Permesso di Soggiorno. Let them know your intention of getting an abortion. They will give you a physical examination and tell you how far along you are, talk to you a bit about your decision and help you find the best solution.
For example, they will tell you if you can do the pill at home method or the operation, and direct you to the best hospital. This interview is usually to check in with you mentally to make sure they have walked you through everything, in case you have any second thoughts. Then they have to wait 7 days so you have proper time to think.
After 7 days, they will give you a form stating your decision, how far along you are, and that you have the “ok” to get an abortion. You then have to make a trip to the recommended hospital.
Bring the form and your documents to the hospital. Here they will schedule your appointment and some blood tests.
If you are early enough for the pill, they will let you do it at home and explain how the aftermath may be. Since it might be a little traumatic at home, you might want to make sure you have a friend or partner with you.
If you need the operation they will ask you to get a few blood tests before the anaesthesia.
The Operation – how it goes
On the day of, you will not be able to have your partner or friend come in with you, but in the ward, other women going through the same process will be with you, and they tend to partner you up 2 or more per room so you will have someone by your side.
You’ll have to wait of course, without food. One by one a doctor will see you, take another look, and give you pills for both the anaesthesia and to start the process of removing the fetus. When it is your turn to go, they will wheel you in, give you anaesthesia and within 20 minutes you will be awake in your room again.
The follow up will be uncomfortable, you’ll have a diaper and need to spend a few hours in the room until you feel strong enough to leave. Partners or family are allowed in, one per person to take care of and spend time with you after.
A huge reminder through this whole process:
I have outlined what I know, but every doctor, hospital, and region has its own weird way of doing things. Be prepared for judgemental doctors who don’t care about your body, be prepared for people cutting in line, for things being slow, for the awkward “Auguri”.
Take a breath and contact who you need to, you’ll be able to get through it!