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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 08:16 GMT 09:16 UK
Should fertility laws change?
Nun walking past a poster reading: "The referendum on assisted fertility will make the future of many couples. I vote yes"
Should the fertility laws in your country change? Do you agree with embryo screening and research?

An Italian referendum on fertility treatment has been declared void because of low turnout, affected by apathy and the Catholic Church's call for abstention.

The current law was drafted and passed amid concerns that Italy had become one of the most liberal countries in the world in the field of assisted conception. It is now one of the most restrictive.

What do you think about the fertility laws in your country? If you are an Italian did you vote?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received.

It is not a matter of fertility treatment, but it is matter of civil liberty and freedom
Loris Sartor, Belluno, Italy
Of course I have voted "yes", I think that many Italians don't understand that it is not a matter of fertility treatment, but it is matter of civil liberty and freedom. It is time for us Italians to understand that a modern and free nation have to distinguish between personal morality and ethical state, in other words between progress and medieval mentality.
Loris Sartor, Belluno, Italy

Once again, the Vatican has proven that it is living in the 19th century. The Church will continue to shrink until it moves forward. And hey, Pope! Stick to Vatican affairs!
Thomas Lohr, Brasov, Romania

I voted in near-deserted polling stations. This result is yet another confirmation that Italy is slipping back into the Dark Ages - something all Italians should be ashamed of.
Massimo Valentino, Rome, Italy

Although I do disagree with the outcome I have an open view. If the Italians want to say no or abstain that is their choice. Saying that the Catholic Church is responsible is a little naive as I think Italians can think for themselves and won't be pushed by others on moral or ethical issues. You only have to look across the Atlantic to see where the religious right tell the people what they should do and think instead of giving moral guidance. Well done Italy and well done the Vatican on showing the world you don't have to be "PC" or "right on".
Dermott, London

As a British citizen permanently resident in Italy, I have, unfortunately, been unable to vote. However, I have been following the debate closely and must say that I find it disgraceful that ignorance has won yet again. The complete lack of media coverage alongside the opinions coming from the Vatican has managed to hide the real significance and the inhumanness of this law. As anyone who has had problems conceiving knows, the trauma that it causes is horrific and my heart goes out to all couples going through fertility treatment. Finally, just to mention, in addition to this, the chance of adopting in Italy is almost impossible. Let's hope that (when there is a new government) things may change in parliament.
Emily, Perugia, Italy

I'm not at all convinced that the collapse of the referendum has anything to do with the Vatican's views on the issue. The referendum was called for by a minority of the population (500,000 signatures) who were probably representing themselves. Though I sympathize with childless couples the issue remains very private and personal. Furthermore, I believe that many voters shied away from taking responsibility for the ethical and moral aspects underlying this referendum vote frightened a lot of voters.
M Clark, Treviso, Italy

As an Anglo-Italian atheist who has lived most of his life in the UK, I think it's disgraceful that the Catholic Church feels that it is correct, particularly at this time of recession, to encourage people to waste public money and influence the course of democracy in such an overt manner. I went to vote with a clear conscience that my 4 "yeses" would help to make a difference not just to the country I live in, but to the world I live in.
Chris Scognamiglio, Pavia, Italy

If they feel religiously obliged to abstain, that is their choice
Joseph Bates, London, UK
Surely the Italian people can judge whether or not they want to be influenced by the Vatican? If they feel religiously obliged to abstain, that is their choice.
Joseph Bates, London, UK

The meddling of the Vatican in the democratic process is despicable. Quite consistent with the autocratic structure of the Roman Church, but despicable when they try to extend that culture to discourage people from participating in their secular processes.
Judith Miller, Madison, Wisconsin USA

I don't care about what the Pope says! I haven't voted this referendum because I think that this law has to be modified in Parliament. If we have voted "Yes" to the referendum we would have had to wait for ten years to improve this law! Do you really think that a referendum is the better solution? I think that it's only a good way to waste public money!
Pietro T, Rome, Italy

The truth about fertility treatments is that they are very expensive and work in only a minority of cases
Natalia, Calgary, AB, Canada
The truth about fertility treatments is that they are very expensive and work in only a minority of cases. If the money and medical resources spent on them were instead redirected at the care of poor and orphaned children already living, the world would be a markedly better place. This, incidentally, is the position of the Catholic Church, and it's a genuine and humane way of alleviating suffering.
Natalia, Calgary, AB, Canada

Women, we have got to start thinking for ourselves! I think religion is a wonderful thing but we've got to stop limiting our lives because some man tells us that God - who happens to also be a man - doesn't want us to do something.
Eseohe Arhebamen, New York, USA

Why do people insist on making more babies when there are so many here already that need homes and love. We should be reducing the population, not increasing it. Kick the fertility habit! Be creative, not reproductive!
Luise, Baltimore, MD USA

Suffering may be the Catholic way, but it is not the humane way
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, UK
Italy is living in the dark ages. When you allow the church to dictate your national policies, you are not a modern nation, you are medieval. It's about time that the religious realised that these advances will save lives and prevent a lot of suffering. Suffering may be the Catholic way, but it is not the humane way.
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, UK

Fertility laws should follow the times like anything else. Vatican pressure was not requested.
Victor, Miami, US

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