Italian senate passes controversial fertility bill
December 12, 2003
ROME — Italy's senate on Thursday passed a landmark bill which will bar
gay couples and single women from having access to artificial
insemination after a divisive debate which pitted outraged liberals
against conservative Roman Catholics.
The senate passed the bill by 169 votes to 90 and the
legislation will now be sent back to the lower house Chamber of
Deputies for minor adjustments but the text will essentially remain
unchanged before becoming law, officials said.
The law bans heterogeneous insemination, or insemination by a
third party outside a couple.
It will put insemination beyond the legal reach of single women
and homosexual couples, as well as banning women from becoming
pregnant using the sperm of a deceased partner.
The debate divided the centre-right government and the
opposition centre-left alike, and saw members of both voting with
the other, sparking deep recriminations in particular inside Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi's ruling House of Freedoms coalition.
The bill will limit a woman's chance of pregnancy through
artificial insemination to three embryos, each of which must be
implanted in the womb, contrary to the practice elsewhere in Europe
where the fertilised embryo can be kept in cold storage.
Italy is the only country in Europe to ban third-party
insemination, contrary to practice in Spain, Britain, Germany and
Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of Italy's World War II
dictator, said she would organise a petition to have the
In a reference to the plight of women in Afghanistan under the
Taliban regime, Deputy foreign minister Margherita Boniver blasted
the legislation as "a Burqah law".
"It's monstrous," said Boniver, a member of Berlusconi's Forza
"It has aspect which resemble a horror film," she said, adding
that women undergoing fertility treatment who found themselves
implanted with "possibly deformed embryos have no choice but to
accept it and then have an abortion".
"I am stunned that serious members of a majority can accept such
a monstrous," she added.
Italy's Catholic bishops blasted what they called
"anti-clericalism, free-masonry, liberalism, bad faith, ignorance
and economic interests" of the legislation's opponents.
They condemned "the enraged and superficial attacks against the
Catholic world". –Sapa-AFP