Italian Right and Left Agree on Status for Human Embryo

2nd Bill Would Protect Objections to «Morning-After» Pill

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ROME, JUNE 21, 2001 ( Two draft laws aim to protect human embryos and to recognize a pharmacist´s right to not dispense the «morning after» pill.

The draft law regarding the human embryo was presented by 56 parliamentarians, including 10 senators of the Margarita center-left coalition. The other supporters were from the center-right.

The legislation aims to change Article 1 of the civil code, in order to make juridical status operative from the moment of conception, and not from the day of birth. «The lawmaker has the moral duty to introduce the one conceived in the field of law as a subject, not a thing,» states the document presented in Parliament.

«The purpose of this proposal is to block multinationals and scientific research in the use of embryos,» explained Rocco Buttiglione, the new Minister for European Policies and leader of the United Christian Democratic Party. The initiative does not abolish the 1978 law that legalized abortion.

«By recognizing the juridical personality of the fetus,» Buttiglione added, «we hope to establish clearly that the embryo´s right to life cannot be questioned by multinationals´ interest in genetic manipulation.»

The other draft law hopes to guarantee the right of pharmacists to conscientiously object to the sale of the morning-after pill, an abortifacient medication. It was presented by two united center-right parties of the Biancofiore coalition, which supports Silvio Berlusconi´s government.

The draft law stipulates that professionals who wish to appeal to conscientious objection must communicate this to the regional Health Minister. The latter, in turn, would publicly list the area pharmacies in which no conscientious objection is recorded.

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