| Last updated
Italian women have been speaking out after learning that their aborted or miscarried foetuses had been buried in Christian cemeteries in Rome without their consent.
Following a shocking news report in October, which told of over 1000 foetuses being buried behind wooden crosses in Prima Porta cemetery (also known as Flaminio cemetery), and other areas around the country, some of the women affected have spoken about the ordeal and shared the horror they felt when they found out about the so-called "fields of angels".
Italian law states that an aborted or miscarried foetus from a pregnancy onwards of 20 weeks must be buried. While this usually takes place in mass graves, in this instance, the foetuses were given individual graves in the shape of a cross, and the mothers' names - passed on for administrative reasons only, by hospitals - were unlawfully added, without consent.
"After my second trimester termination of pregnancy I found a grave with my foetus buried beneath a cross - a religious symbol I don't identify with because I'm an atheist," one woman, Marta Loi, told the BBC, adding that the 'grave' also bore her first and last name.
"I think it's blatant abuse and a violation of the rights of all the other women who didn't know this was happening."
Marta shared a post on social media after she found out about the grave with her name, and since, dozens of other women have spoken out with their own stories.
"After the immense pain of losing my daughter, to discover this beastly act was awful," another mother named Francesca told The Guardian. Francesca had an abortion in September 2019 after she learnt that her baby would not survive, given its malformed heart and aorta. Giving birth would also have put her own life at risk.
"I repeatedly asked the hospital what happened to the foetus and they made me believe it had been thrown away,
"So where was it for three months? Then for it to be buried with the symbol of a cross, which I don't adhere to, and with my name on it - it felt like a punishment."
Campaign group Differenza Donna has reported identifying as many 1,000 religious graves, made without consent, in the Roman Catholic cemetery. Over 100 women have since asked prosecutors to investigate who is to blame for the burial practice, which has taken place for nearly a decade.
Abortion was legalised in Italy in 1978, but many women still struggle to get them safely, as so many doctors are conscientious objectors.
Silvana Agaton, a retired gynaecologist in the region who supports a woman's right to choose, told the publication: "Cemeteries like this have been in place since 1937, and at the time the law was made, what did women count for?
"Then the rightwing groups came along and exploited it with their 'fields of angels'. Nobody went to check whose names were on the graves - I would never have imagined something like this."
Francesca added: "In Italy you can't abort in a civilised way despite the law being there - and this is what we need to be discussing more."
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read