Referendum on Assisted-Fertilization Law Opposed

BARI, Italy, JAN. 26, 2005 ( Italian bishops expressed their opposition to a referendum that seeks to alter four aspects of the law on assisted fertilization, assailing the proposal as an attack on unborn human life.

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After the meeting of the episcopate’s Permanent Commission, the bishops published a statement Tuesday on the decision of the Italian Constitutional Court to submit four questions on the matter to a popular vote.

Silvio Berlusconi’s government has yet to announce the date of the referendum.

In their statement, the prelates «expressed unanimously their opposition to eventual modifications that worsen [the law], whether through Parliament or through a referendum.»

«As it stands, the law, although it does not correspond to the Church’s ethical teaching, has the merit, nevertheless, of safeguarding some essential principles and criteria,» states the episcopal document.

The four proposals that Italians must approve or reject by referendum would cancel restrictions on clinical and experimental research with human embryos; remove a rule that limits to three the number of embryos than can be created during assisted-fertilization procedures; eliminate the legal rights of the one conceived; and lift the ban on heterologous fertilization, which uses a third person.

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