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15 July 2024

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G7 drops summit commitment to abortion access: Draft

BI Desk || BusinessInsider

Published: 00:53, 15 June 2024  
G7 drops summit commitment to abortion access: Draft

Photo: Collected

G7 leaders have dropped an explicit commitment to abortion rights in their final statement from a summit, according to a draft seen by AFP Friday, after reports that hosts Italy were opposed.

Leaders of the Group of Seven rich democracies had at a Japan summit last year committed to addressing "access to safe and legal abortion" -- but that reference does not appear in the draft of this year's statement.

Instead, it simply references the 2023 so-called Hiroshima statement, reports BSS/AFP.

"We reiterate our 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," the draft says.

The United States and France had both pushed back after reports that Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was trying to water down the language on women's rights.

French President Emmanuel Macron publicly expressed regret at Italy's position on abortion, noting the French parliament's vote earlier this year to enshrine the right in the constitution.

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

"The controversy over the presence or absence of the word abortion in the conclusions is totally specious," she said, according to the ANSA news agency.

She said the document would recall the language of the Hiroshima text, "in which we already approved last year the need to guarantee that abortion is 'safe and legal'."

Abortion has been legal in the Catholic-majority country since 1978, but accessing one is challenging due to the high percentage of gynaecologists who refuse to perform them on moral or religious grounds.

Meloni, a self-described "Christian mother" who came to power in 2022, has been accused by rights activists of attempting to make it more difficult to terminate pregnancies.

A senior EU official confirmed attempts to use the explicit wording on abortion had failed.

"We have been defending what was agreed in Hiroshima where the text was more explicit, but it was not possible to reach an agreement on disputes in the room," the official said.

But he added: "What is important is that in the text you have promotion of sexual and reproductive rights."