‘How could this happen?’ The Italian anti-choice group that buries foetuses without mothers knowing

Some 100,000 embryos and foetuses have been buried by the group, reports Iris Pase

Thursday 24 September 2020 22:04 BST
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A graveyard area for foetuses in Brescia, Italy
A graveyard area for foetuses in Brescia, Italy (Elena Iannone)

It was 2013 when Beatrice*, an Italian woman living in Turin, received an unexpected letter. The local administration was informing her of the end of the cemetery concession for a grave in her family’s name. Having recently lost her father, Beatrice didn’t understand why the letter mentioned an exhumation. He had been cremated, not buried. Confused, she called the local administration. “A quite embarrassed employee told me the grave was older, the remains dated back to 2008,” she tells The Independent. “I connected it immediately. Someone had buried my foetus.”  

Beatrice's child was one of the thousands of embryos and foetuses that are buried by Defending Life with Mary (Advm). A Catholic anti-choice association, Advm has been creating agreements with hospitals and local authorities for 20 years to collect the remains of miscarriages and abortions. The association gives them a burial ceremony in specifically devoted graveyard areas (called Gardens of Angels) - all without the parents’ knowledge.

Five years before the call, Beatrice had become pregnant for the first time. Unfortunately, amniocentesis results showed the foetus suffered from trisomy, a chromosomal abnormality consisting in the presence of three copies of a chromosome instead of two. After days of sorrow and reflection, Beatrice and her partner decided to have an abortion.  

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