ROME – Hundreds of white and metallic crosses with the names of women who terminated their pregnancies in Roman hospitals line up in rows in a grassy section of the capital’s Flaminio cemetery. The area, nicknamed “Garden of Angels” has existed since the 1990s when the ultra-conservative Catholic group Difendere la Vita con Maria or Defend life with Mary, have somehow had access to medical waste in which they fish the fetuses to bury.
Some graves have faded teddy bears and windmills attached to the crosses. Others have notes and pictures of the Virgin Mary. None of them are cared for by the women whose fetuses are buried there, and now the practice of burial is the target of a class action lawsuit by nearly 100 women who say they never gave birth. permission for their fetuses to be buried.
The dying story was revealed last week when a woman known as FT gave a shocking interview to La Repubblica newspaper. In it, she explained that she ended her pregnancy due to serious health issues for her and the survival of her unborn baby, and she says she was in shock. At the hospital in Rome, she said she signed numerous papers in circumstances which she describes as “blurring” of the trauma of her fear of health – including one in which she apparently gave to the waste management company of Rome AMA and to the conservative Catholic group permission to bury her fetus. with his name on a cross.
“It was as if they had buried me,” she said. “They decided I was already dead.
The discovery of the Rome cemetery has sparked inquiries across the country, where at least a dozen communities have the same sections for “never-born babies” in public cemeteries. A similar cemetery was discovered in Turin in 2013 after cemetery officials contacted a woman whose aborted fetus was buried without her permission to inform her that the grave would be exhumed if she did not pay the annual dues. The graves on this land have since been removed.
The women’s rights group Differenza Donna now plans to meet with Italy’s health minister after appealing to women who had likely signed similar papers in hospitals to join a class action lawsuit against hospitals, the Rome waste management company and the Catholic group . The women voluntarily request that their fetuses be buried, but the women who signed the lawsuit did not and instead assumed that the medical garbage would be handled according to medically acceptable practices.
“Next week we will all get together,” Differenza Donna President Elisa Ercoli said in a statement Friday. “We asked the judicial authority to identify which crimes correspond to serious violations of human rights and women’s freedom,” she wrote. “A national intervention is needed to put an end to these serious violations which have occurred for years but which have only been discovered in these days.”
“It was as if they had buried me. They have decided that I am already dead.“
She condemned the mayor of Rome, the city’s waste management company and the Ministry of Health for turning a blind eye to the practice. Lorenza Fruci, the gender policy delegate in the city government of Rome, said on Saturday that the graves must be removed. “What happened with the names on the graves was unacceptable,” she said. “A humiliating and intolerable practice that violates the right of these women to privacy.”
What is not yet clear is how the group that buries these fetuses gained access to what, in any other circumstance, should have been private information. FT, who visited the cemetery after learning his name was on a grave, said La Repubblica that the termination of her pregnancy was sufficiently traumatic. “It was a terrible experience, even for the way I was treated during the hospitalization,” she says. “Now I find my name is on a cross and my daughter is underneath.”
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