In Theory, Italy Aims to Protect the Unborn in Artificial Insemination

Parliament Debating Complicated Legislation

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ROME, JUNE 13, 2002 ( Safeguards for the rights of the unborn, at least in theory, will be included in the new law on artificial insemination now being debated in the Italian Parliament.

Article 1, approved 247-177 in a secret ballot Tuesday, states: “Medically assisted procreation ensures the rights of all individuals involved, including the unborn.”

Some Communist, Liberal, Socialist and feminine sectors interpreted the defense of the embryo as an alleged “attack on the law of abortion,” which was passed in Italy by referendum.

In the end, a proposal was approved which establishes the safeguarding of the rights of all those involved in procreation, and not just those of the unborn, as stated in an initial proposal in Article 1.

Pro-lifers acknowledged that the parliamentarians would refuse an outright ban on artificial insemination, which often causes the loss of numerous human lives through the elimination of embryos.

Article 2 was approved Wednesday, authorizing $1.9 million for research on techniques for “cryo-conservation” of gametes and pathological causes of sterility.

Article 3 was also approved, which assigns to family consultation centers the task to familiarize sterile couples with techniques of artificial insemination.

There are still key articles of the law to be voted on. Article 13 prohibits the freezing of, experimentation with, and cloning of embryos. Still to be decided is the fate of 30,000 frozen embryos in Italy.

In part, the law is the result of the work of the Italian Pro-Life Movement. Olimpia Tarzia, the movement´s secretary, told Vatican Radio that its priority is the protection of human life. The movement is seeking at least to prohibit heterologous insemination, which involves a third party.

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