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Italians fail to overturn restrictive reproduction law

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 16 June 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1405

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Medical associations supporting Italian ART law

I write on behalf of Medicina e Persona, an association of more than 3.000
Italian nurses and physicians, which supported the present Italian law on
assisted fertilisation (AF) along with other associations of hundred of
Italian researchers (e.g. Scienza e Vita).
We were astonished by reading on the current issue of BMJ Fabio Turoni’s
paper entitled “Italians fail to overturn restrictive reproduction law”
(1). We were not surprised, because we read some similar papers by the
same author (2-4) or by S. Arie (5-7) in your journal: in particular one
(5) contained so many errors that even the former Italian Health Minister,
Gerolamo Sirchia, asked BMJ to correct them (8). Even in the present
paper, an absence of a thorough analysis and knowledge of Italian issues
appears (e.g. Mrs Prestigiacomo does not belong to AN party).
We wonder why such an important journal as BMJ cannot be objective in
reporting Italian data, avoiding to mirror only the ideas expressed by
Italian press. Italian media made a huge campaign against the present law
on AF and were defeated not by the church, but by common sense and by
millions of people who understood that human life is not a means for some
else’s health. The Catholic Church stands among the winners, but many non
religious physicians, ecologists and feminists joined the battle to
support the present law.
After the referendum, almost 80% (75% abstained and 2.5-5% voted NO; only
20-25% voted YES) of Italian people were defined “ignorant”,
“obscurantist”, “lazy”, by Italian opinion-leaders who had supported the
referendum against the AF law, and by people like the representant of the
Radical party Mr Turone interviewed. We cannot accept it. Many physicians
like us chose not to vote; many made conferences to explain the reasons
why a physician should preserve human life since its appearance, and found
thousands of people listening, participating and approving.
You can agreed or not, but this is the Italian news, and your journal
cannot affirm to be well-balanced if it defines the decision of 80% of
Italian people a failure, and if it reports only the angry reactions of
the losers. Many physicians, physiotherapists and nurses are catholic, and
with many non-catholic colleagues respect human life since its embryonic
beginning: do BMJ believe they are second-class professionals? Is there no
room for their opinion in the journal?

Felice Achilli, MD
President of Medicina e Persona


1. Turone F: Italians fail to overturn restrictive reproduction law.
BMJ 2005;330:1405
2. Turone F. Italians celebrate success of treatment no longer legal in
Italy. BMJ. 2004 Sep 18;329(7467):643.
3. Turone F. New law forces Italian couple with genetic disease to
implant all their IVF embryos. BMJ. 2004 Jun 5;328(7452):1334.
4. Turone F. Italy to pass new law on assisted reproduction. BMJ. 2004
Jan 3;328(7430):9.
5. Arie S. Row brews over Italian abortion proposals. BMJ. 2004 Aug
6. Arie S. Woman forced to have three embryos implanted is allowed fetal
reduction to save her life. BMJ. 2004 Jul 10;329(7457):71.
7. Arie S. Crusading for change. BMJ. 2005 Apr 23;330(7497):926.
8. Girolamo Sirchia: Comments of the Italian Minister of Health.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 June 2005
Felice Achilli
Direttore U.O. Cardiologia, ospedale