G7 LEADERS’ MEETING 2024 – Right-wing Italian Prime Minister Meloni opposes reference to ‘safe and legal abortion’ as well as language on sexual and reproductive rights initially included in the G7 draft communiqué: so why did all those men give in??

While the G7 leaders’ meeting in Italy on 13-15 June 2024 focused primarily on the situation in Ukraine, they were also expected to address a wide range of issues, including social rights, artificial intelligence and health. However, the intention to include language on the importance of preserving and ensuring effective access to safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care was opposed by far-right Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, whose country currently holds the G7 presidency. Her party came out on top in this month’s European elections, gaining 14 additional seats, though less than 29% of the vote. The presence of Pope Francis, who joined the G7 meeting, might have influenced the changed outcome, according to Meloni’s right-hand man.

Ahead of the summit, the US, Japan, France and Germany had led efforts to include “safe and legal abortions” in the text but it is said they were “pushed back” by Italy, Euractiv reports. Last year, the G7’s Hiroshima statement called for a full commitment to achieving comprehensive sexual and reproductive health rights for all, and for “access to safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care”.

This year, G7 leaders then said they would aim to “achieve comprehensive SRHR [sexual and reproductive health and rights] for all, including by addressing access to safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care”. They also committed to thwarting attempts to undermine and reverse hard-won progress in this area. Earlier, in April, G7 foreign ministers had committed to promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights, though without specifically mentioning abortion rights.

Meloni has often faced a strong backlash from women’s groups and NGOs since she became Italy’s leader in 2022. Earlier this year, her government sparked a heated political debate when it added measures to the country’s pre-existing abortion law (Law 194), that now allow anti-abortion activists inside abortion clinics.

Meloni’s executive also cut funding for the prevention of violence against women by an aggregate of 70% last year. ActionAid estimated that those funds dropped from €17 million allocated by the Draghi government in 2022 to €5 million in 2023.

SOURCES: Euronews, by Gerardo Fortuna, 14 June 2024 ; Euractiv, by Alexandra Brzozowski, Catherine Feore, 14 June 2024 ; CNN, by Christian Edwards, Niamh Kennedy, Barbie Latza Nadeau, Nic Robertson, 14 June 2024 + PHOTO: G7 leaders, by Yara Nardi/Reuters