“Abortion is the prime cause of femicide in the world,” declare the black-and-white posters that have appeared in several areas of Rome.
But the campaign has provoked widespread anger and led to appeals to the mayor to get the posters removed.
One feminist group condemned the posters as “disgraceful” while others objected to the use of a word often used for the killing of women by men.
Italy is about to mark 40 years since abortion was made legal.
The Madrid-based CitizenGo group behind the posters timed the campaign to coincide with the 22 May anniversary of Italy’s Law 194, as well as a “march for life” in the centre of Rome on Saturday.
In a series of messages on social media, it said that after 40 years the law had failed and that abortion was often used to suppress women, leaving “millions of babies killed and women injured”.
This is not the first time anti-abortion groups have highlighted the impending anniversary of the law. Only a month ago Rome authorities removed a giant poster of a foetus that bore the slogan: “You’re here because your mum didn’t abort you.”
How have Romans reacted?
Among those protesting against the new campaign was local authority leader Francesca Del Bello, who said the posters were “offensive to every woman, especially for those who had the difficult experience of abortion or violence”.
Writer and broadcaster Selvaggia Lucarelli went on Twitter to say: “How sad to use the term ‘femicide’ in a vile way with the clear aim of attracting attention to a campaign against abortion.”
Feminist group Facebook Rebel Network called on Mayor Virginia Raggi to remove the posters immediately.
However, campaigners hit back saying that all those who had insulted the CitizenGo group had been able to do so only because they had not been aborted themselves. Their campaign would soon spread to other cities, they said.