Abstention Urged in Referendum on Embryo Research

ROME, MARCH 15, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Bishops in Italy again invited the faithful to abstain from voting in a referendum to change the law on assisted procreation and research with human embryos.

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With the abstention, a “double ‘no’ is pronounced of content and method” to any “worsening” of the present law, said Bishop Giuseppe Bertori, during a press conference today at the conclusion of the meeting of the episcopal conference’s Permanent Council.

“The proposal of the Science and Life Committee to abstain is the most logical and effective to achieve this rejection and, in this sense, it is shared by the bishops,” he said.

The Church says that fundamental issues such as the elimination of human lives cannot depend on majority opinion.

Under Italian law, at least 50% of those with the right to vote must participate for a referendum to be valid.

The referendum’s four proposals 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.

No date has been set yet for the referendum.

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