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(en) Italy: Church & State together against the freedom of women (it)

From Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici <fdca@fdca.it>
Date Wed, 9 Feb 2005 11:25:39 +0100 (CET)

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The whole affair of the Referendum for the partial repeal of Law No.40/2004
regarding Medically Assisted Procreation (MAP) has been a disaster from the
very start. Now, Italy's constitutional court has decided, as we feared, that
Italians are not to be given the chance to totally repeal this prohibitionist,
fundamentalist law which is aimed at stopping women from making decisions about
their own bodies and at setting limits to the principle of female self-determination.
Those who are happy now that an end has come to the (non-existent) reproductive
"Far West" where the unregulated female desire for maternity caused scandal,
and who prefer a bad law to no law at all, do not openly say that what they
actually want - and which is in effect introduced by this law - is for women to
be firmly placed back into a minority position with strict controls over them.
Neither do they say that the important thing is the principles that are
enshrined in this law, not their actual application - something which is
difficult anyway in a Europe without borders where economic possibilities alone
make the difference between who will and who won't be affected by this new
freedom-killing Italian law.

The first question to be decided by the referendum, and which was presented by
only 12 female parliamentarians, seeks the repeal of the article which sets the
rights of the woman against the rights of the embryo. A "Yes" vote on this
point would avoid a serious conflict between women's rights and the rights of
unborn children, blocking what is clearly an attempt at cancelling the effects
of Law No.194 [1].

A "Yes" vote for the three other questions to be decided by the referendum,
which are supported by the moderate left and the secular elements of the
governing coalition together with the medical lobby and pro-genetic research
associations, would serve to mitigate the worst effects of this monstrous law,
effects which make it truly unmanageable and indigestible.

But rather than aiming at the protection of the freedom of choice and the
protection of women's health, they seem mostly designed to protect the medical
sector and the lobby of pharmacological research by companies who offer
commercial health services.

The request for the protection of the physical and mental health of women, who
can choose to obtain access to fertility treatment, does not hide the
perception that we are faced with hideous blackmail - that of giving up the
rights of all women in order to protect the health of some.

We believe, in fact, that even if there is a "Yes" vote on the four questions
in the referendum, this law will continue to place limits on personal freedom.
By denying access to fertility treatment by anyone other than established
heterosexual couples, the law continues to violate the right to health. The
World Health Organization has defined infertility as an illness, but this law
contradicts this definition in no uncertain terms and will only result in the
impossibility of self-determination by denying the freedom for all women,
irrespective of their sexual orientation or family status, to benefit from
fertility treatment. Furthermore, the law provides for special records to be
kept of all those who are born thanks to this form of treatment, a provision
which only servies to provide further serious cause for concern.

The establishment of regulations regarding MAP and genetic research cannot be
done through a law imposed by the State, a law which is the fruit of
compromises hatched out by priests and doctors. Regulation must be determined
on the basis of shared practices developed by those centres which carry out
fertility treatment and must guarantee access to all and be secular in its
outlook. It must respect the reproductive choices, individual or joint, of
every one of us.

As experience in Italy with regard to abortion shows, rules imposed by laws
from above with which many disagree are frequently disregarded, even at a heavy
personal price, by individuals who rightly believe they should have the power
to decide for themselves and for their own lives. While it may be true that, as
at other moments in the recent past, women have not been able to express their
clear opposition, it by no means follows that they are unaware of the dangers
that this law presents, even if its worst aspects are softened somewhat by the

Therefore, while our immediate action can only be to respond positively to the
referendum, in full awareness of the game being played by the institutional
politicians with our freedom, we must remember that the final word on the
matter must come from agreement from the grassroots, which must question the
need for a law which claims to decide our lives for us and which puts a limit
on our rights, first and foremost the rights of equality and of the health of
women and men.

Florence, 29.01.2005

Council of Delegates
(Federation of Anarchist Communists)


1. Law No.194 is the law which currently regulates the right to abortion. Law
No.40, by introducing the concept of the rights of the embryo is, in effect,
the first step towards making abortion a crime of homicide.

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