Italy OKs RU-486; Vatican Threatens Excommunications
By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2009 1:37 PM CDT
An aerial view of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Italy has legalized the abortion drug RU-486, drawing the ire of the Vatican, which threatened to excommunicate doctors who prescribe the medication and women who take it. A church official said using the pill is "a sin in a moral and juridical sense," but a politician who is also a gynecologist hailed yesterday's decision, telling ANSA, "It's above all a victory for Italian women, who from today have more choice."

The Italian Drug Agency tacitly took note of the controversy in its ruling, which read in part, "The task of protecting the well-being of citizens must take precedence over personal convictions," the AP reports. Drugstores still can't dispense RU-486, which must be administered by a doctor in a hospital. Over the Vatican's objections, Italy legalized abortion in 1978. The so-called morning-after pill has been in legal use since 2000.