Italians vote on fertility referendum

Sunday, June 12, 2005

On Sunday and Monday, Italians will vote on a referendum that would the abolish certain rules of the law about medically assisted fertility treatment.

Italian Law 40 of February 19, 2004 ruled on some aspects of assisted fertility treatment and established some rigid limits. The law was approved by the majority of Parliament with the encouragement of the government. The opposition protested because there was no agreement among Parliament for such a law and there was also disagreement among the majority. The law was approved using an urgent mechanism of the parliament, an apparatus used only if there is an urgent need for a law.

A Committee against the law has formed and asked for the Referendum.

There will be 4 different votes about 4 different aspects of the law.

The first of them is asking to remove the prohibition of doing scientific studies with embryonic cells. The second is the ban on donor sperm and eggs; the third is a ban on embryo screening for couples with hereditary diseases; and the fourth, the rule that only three embryos per treatment can be created, all of which have to be implanted at the same time.

The referendum is of abrogate type, the only type of referendum permitted by Italian law.

According to the Italian Law, in order for a law (or part of a law) to be abolished by a referendum, there must not only be a majority vote in favor of the abolishment, but also that the valid vote must be more than the majority of the people that have the right to vote.

Since it's easier for the referendum not to be approved due to lack of presence of voters rather than for the presence of the majority of the "no" vote, the party who wants to keep the law as it is currently, has now asked citizens "not to go vote" rather than to vote "no".

Even the Catholic Church asked its members to "not go to vote"; the Pope himself asked for that in an indirect way. The president of the Senate and other people in charge of important official positions took this position.

The opposition contested this behavior.



  • Web site about referendum of the Italian Internal Affair Minister
  • Web site of the Committee for voting yes to this referendum