Italy’s Meloni denies G7 spat over abortion

Italy’s Meloni denies G7 spat over abortion
Italy’s Meloni denies G7 spat over abortion

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni gives a press conference on the last day of the G7 Summit hosted by Italy at the Borgo Egnazia resort near Bari in Apulia region, on June 15, 2024. — AFP pic

BARI, Italy, June 15 — Italian far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, host of the G7 summit, today denied there had been a row over the exclusion of the word abortion from a leaders’ statement.

Leaders of the Group of Seven rich democracies last year committed to addressing “access to safe and legal abortion”, in a statement after a summit in Hiroshima in Japan.

But that reference did not appear in the final statement agreed at this year’s summit in Italy’s Puglia — with diplomats blaming Meloni.

“The controversy has been constructed in a totally contrived manner, the polemic did not exist in the summit... because there was nothing to quarrel about,” she insisted at an end-of-summit press conference.

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The G7 includes the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United States and Italy.

Their final statement reiterated “commitments in the Hiroshima leaders’ communique to universal access to adequate, affordable, and quality health services for women, including comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights for all”.

Meloni said that “usually in these documents, to avoid making them unnecessarily repetitive when something is repeated, they refer to the previous documents”.

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“Things that are already taken for granted are not repeated verbatim,” she added.

The United States and France had both pushed back after reports that Meloni — a far-right leader who is opposed to abortion — was trying to water down the language on women’s rights.

A senior EU official had earlier confirmed that attempts to use the more explicit wording had failed.

The issue sparked a diplomatic spat between Meloni and liberal French President Emmanuel Macron.

Asked by an Italian journalist about the abortion wording, Macron noted the French parliament’s recent vote to enshrine the right of abortion in France’s constitution.

“These are not the same sensitivities that there are in your country today... I regret that but I respect it, because it was the sovereign choice of your people,” he said.

Meloni hit back by noting Macron was facing upcoming legislative elections, saying it was “profoundly wrong” to use a G7 summit for “campaigning”.

On Saturday she said: “I understand the reasons why these controversies arise, I understand why they are fuelled by some, but it was not objectively an issue.”

Meloni also insisted “there have been no steps backwards” on LGBTQ rights.

The final G7 statement expressed “strong concern about the rollback of the rights of women, girls and LGBTQIA+ people around the world” but did not repeat a line in the Japan statement committing to the full participation of LGBTQ people in society.

And there was no mention of the issue of gender identity, as there had been in Japan. — AFP

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