INTRODUCTION: Italians went to the polls on Sunday and Monday (17/18 May) to vote on five referendum issues -- including the controversial abortion law.
LV EXT Pope John Paul II on balcony addressing crowd in St. Peter's Square
SV Crowd with banners
SV INT Mother Teresa at Cine Adriano, Rome addressing meeting
SV 'Yes to Life' poster
GV EXT Socialist Party rally in Milan
CU Audience PAN TO speaker PULL BACK TO GV
CU Woman in audience ZOOM OUT TO GV people with carnations on raincoats
GV INT Radical Party leader Marco Pannella voting in Rome ZOOM INTO CU hand marking ballot paper PULL OUT TO GV
SV Communist Party leader Enrico Berlinguer voting
SV former Prime Minister Guilio Andreotti voting
SPEECH ON FILM (TRANSCRIPT):
TERESA: 'God speaks that, even if mother could forget her child, I will not forget you'.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: Italians went to the polls on Sunday and Monday (17/18 May) to vote on five referendum issues -- including the controversial abortion law. One proposal would liberalise the law even further, and the other would make it illegal, except in cases of serious physical danger. Pope John Paul strongly opposes abortion, and his shooting last week was expected to attract votes of sympathy.
SYNOPSIS: Before he was shot, the Pope told a crowd in St. Peter's Square that abortion meant murder. He said the church considered any legislation favouring abortion a most serious violation of the rights of man and the divine commandment "Thou shalt not kill'.
He was supported by Mother Teresa of Calcutta at an anti-abortion meeting in Rome.
Aside from the referendum of abortion, Italians voted on the length of life imprisonment, the right to carry arms, and the powers of police to hold suspected terrorists. Socialist party leaders attacked Vatican interference in the abortion issue.
The Socialist support the present law, allowing adults free abortions in the first 90 days of pregnancy, while the Radical Party, led by Marco Pannella, sponsored the proposal to remove restrictions from the law. Opinion polls predicted that the Radical Party proposal has no chance of success.
Enrico Derlinguer, leader of the Communist Party, joined with the Socialists and the smaller Liberal, Social Democrat and Republican parties in calling for the present legislation to remain unchanged. They maintained that it is the only way to protect women from the horrors of back-street abortions, which were common before the law was brought into effect.
Former Prime Minister Guilio Andreotti was another leading politician to cast his vote on Sunday (17 May). Forty-three million Italians were entitled to vote on the various issues, and the full results were expected on Tuesday (19 May).