The Italian parliament passed a bill on Thursday, February 5th to compel medical staff to contact the police if they believe that the patient they are treating does not have a work permit of valid visa. Opposition MPs condemned the measure as racist and doctors groups said that the law would turn them into informants instead of physicians.
Italy’s Association of Hospital Doctors said that its members objected to act as “spies,” saying the move would illegal immigrants would shun medical aid and help rather than risk deportation. Democratic and opposition MP Anna Finocchiaro said the law would “spread fear among people who would no longer go to the hospital to give birth or seek treatment for their children, or will hide diseases even if they are contagious.”
MP Jean-Leonard Touadi, who is originally from the Congo, criticized the law as “a return to fascist-era snooping.” But the government insisted that the law is necessary because of the large number of illegal immigrants in the country, who the government blames for many law and order problems in Italy.
Religious leaders have asked Catholic doctors to object to such tactics. “The Church’s view is that help should always be offered to people in danger, and we would urge doctors not to report anyone who comes to them. We would urge Catholic doctors to declare themselves conscientious objectors,” said Domenico Segalini of the Italian Catholic Bishops Conference.