Italy faces embryo referendum

Scientists hunger strike and the Pope intervenes ahead of a poll on assisted reproduction

Rossella Lorenzi(Lorenzi@tin.it)
Jun 1, 2005

Italian scientists are hoping that a referendum next week on possible amendments to a controversial assisted reproduction law will allow them to resume embryo research.

The referendum, scheduled for June 12–13, centers on some key provisions of the much disputed "Law 40," which was approved in 2003 to regulate the field of reproductive technology.

The law bans any testing of embryos for research or experimental purposes, freezing embryos or embryo suppression. It forbids the use of stem cells from discarded embryos for scientific research as well as preimplantation diagnosis for preventing genetically transmitted diseases.

It also bans donor insemination, denies access to artificial reproductive techniques for single women, and rules that no more than three eggs may be fertilized in vitro and that they must be used simultaneously.

Four million signatures of protest have led to the referendum. Participants will be asked to vote "Yes" or "No" to four questions....

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