Pregnant women in northern Italy are to be offered 4,500 euros (£3,700; $5,500) not to have abortions

The idea comes from the governor of the Lombardy region, Roberto Formigoni, who says no woman should end a pregnancy because of economic difficulty.

The women would have to prove they are in financial hardship in order to qualify for the 18 monthly payments.

The policy has been welcomed by anti-abortion campaigners, but critics have condemned the move as propaganda.

Mr Formigoni, a political ally of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, said he wanted to support “the family, motherhood and births”.

A spokesman for the Italian Bishops’ Conference responded to the new policy by saying: “Anything that respects life is to be applauded.”

Lombardy has set aside 5m euros ($6.1m, £4.2m) for the scheme, officials say. The women will receive 18 monthly payments of 250 euros.

But the policy has also been criticised as a short-term solution to a life-long responsibility.

Writing on the Italian paper La Repubblica’s website, Cinzia Sasso questioned what mothers would do after the first 18 months, and said the number of people that could receive aid under the money allocated was “laughable”.

Sara Valmaggi, an opposition politician, said volunteers who are to work on the project could not act as a substitute for public sector health workers.

Abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/10214872.stm



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