Skip referendum on assisted fertilization, say Italian bishops

The president of the Bishops Conference of Italy, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, is promoting the creation of a civic committee that would encourage Italians to abstain from voting in the coming referendum on a law that would liberalize the country’s policy on assisted fertilization.

The referendum requires the participation of at least 50% of Italian voters in order to be valid.  If passed, it would change a law on artificial fertilization, approved by the Italian government in February of 2004 and considered the strictest in Europe, which according to the cardinal has the “merit of protecting the essential principles and beliefs regarding the dignity of the person.”

On January 13 of this year, the Constitutional Court approved the creation of four referendums on certain aspects of the law, which currently prohibits fertilization by someone who is a third party, allows only for the creation of a maximum of three embryos per woman, all of which must be implanted, and does not allow analysis of the embryos before implantation.

According to Cardinal Ruini, the mission of the proposed civic committee, “Science and Life,” is to “prevent the law on assisted procreation from becoming worse in case the referendum were to pass.”

Likewise, he revealed that the bishops are preparing to deal with the referendum by concentrating on the formation of consciences “regarding the dignity of human life from conception, the protection of the family and the right of children to know who their own parents are.”

Catholic Action, Communion and Liberation, Opus Dei, and other communities, as well as Catholic communication media such as Avvenire, L’Osservatore Romano, Sat 2000 Television and Vatican Radio, are participating in the formation of this committee.

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