Film-maker Zeffirelli to vote "pro-life" in Italian polls

Society Materials 15 February 2008 18:34 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Film director Franco Zeffirelli says he will support an anti-abortion ticket in Italy's upcoming elections as debate over changes to the country's law on the termination of pregnancy continues to inflame the pre-vote campaign.

Zeffirelli, a Roman Catholic, announced his support for conservative journalist Giuliano Ferrara's "pro-life" platform in an interview posted on Catholic website, Petrus, on Friday.

"I admire Giuliano Ferrara ... it's true, in the past he was a Marxist, but conversion is possible for everyone," Zeffirelli said of Ferrara - a former Communist who is close to former centre-right premier Silvio Berlusconi.

On Thursday hundreds of women took to the streets in several Italian cities to defend a 1978 law which made abortion legal in the country.

The protestors, some of whom scuffled with police in Rome, were also manifesting their solidarity with a woman whose aborted fetus was confiscated by police in Naples the day before.

Police who said they were investigating possible irregularities, denied allegations they had burst into a hospital ward to interrogate the woman - identified in news reports as Silvana - just minutes after her abortion.

Abortion has featured prominently on the political agenda since Ferrara, a some-time speech-writer for former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, last week appealed to the media-mogul politician to back his anti-abortion drive.

Centre-right leader Berlusconi who currently tops opinion polls, first said he would push for the United Nations to approve a worldwide moratorium on abortion along the lines of one recently adopted by the UN on the death penalty.

However, Berlusconi later said he would not impose an anti-abortion stance on members of his People of Liberty party, prompting Ferrara to announce a separate election ticket for the April 13-14 polls.

Italy's centre-left, with the exception of several Catholics in its ranks, staunchly defends current legislation which - barring exceptions were a woman's health is deemed in great danger - allows pregnancies to be terminated up to three months from their start.