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As the 40th anniversary of Italy’s legalisation of abortion approaches, activists and far-right politicians have seized on Italy’s low birth rate and the attention on Ireland’s referendum on abortion to boost their own campaign to outlaw the practice.

Ahead of the 22 May anniversary, ProVita, the Italian anti-abortion association, has published a booklet repeating claims that women who have an abortion could be more prone to breast cancer and suicide or become alcoholics or drug addicts.

Italians voted to legalise abortion in a similar plebiscite in 1978. But 70.4% of gynaecologists still refuse to terminate pregnancies for moral reasons, which means it is almost impossible for women to access a safe procedure.