Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Italians fail to overturn restrictive reproduction law

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

Rapid Response:

Titles, impartiality and good journalism

I am quite surprised by the Turone’s title (“Italians fail to
overturn restrictive reproduction law”). I guess it is frankly misleading.
It seems that actually the majority of Italian people want to cancel this
“restrictive”(?) (This is an opinion of Mr. Turone) law but for some
“mysterious” and “obscurantist” reasons this did not happen. I am Italian
and I decided, as more than 74% of Italian people, do not participate to
the vote in view to not achieve the quorum, using a strategy that our
present rules of the referendum clearly state. I took this decision for
ethical reasons only, not just for my religious belief and particularly
not in view to obey to the Catholic Church appeal. The Turone article,
instead, seems to suggest that the results of the Italian referendum
should be ascribed to integralism or to “low level of education” (sic!!)
of the people who decided for abstention. On which objective data Turone
decided that the results of the referendum are due to exclusively by a
“narrow-minded” religious behaviour? If this was the case why other
referenda, on divorce or abortion, obtained results not in line with the
Vatican view? Perhaps Turone thinks that the reason of this result could
be ascribed probably to the fact that there are now too few “cattolici
adulti” (smart Catholics) as Mr Prodi, the left party premier, has so
generously instructed us, “poor stupid Catholics”? In addition, the
article reported only declaration of people (Mrs Bonino, Mrs
Prestigiacomo, Mr Sunde) or institution contrary to the present law: I
think this is not a correct and impartial way to present such complicated
issue. It is not correct to state that the strategy of the Church, but
also the Committee against the referendum, was simply to “convince that
the issue were too complicated to be understood and decided by popular
vote” (again: probably 74% of Italian population is too stupid to
understand so complicated matter!!). Turone forget that, in fact, the
principal debate was if the embryo could have already all the right of a
living person or not: it is possible to have different opinion on that but
this is not a “complicated” issue, Mr Turone.
Sunde’s statement that “Vatican stands against biomedical research (!) and
treatment (!!)” is frankly a rash opinion: again it is really a pity that
the article did not report different opinion on this issue.
Finally, the article of Turone has also several mistakes:
· Actually the percentage of voting people in this referendum was 25.5%
(“Avvenire” Italian newspaper, June 15, 2005) (not 25.9% as stated in the
Turone’s article) (numbers are numbers)
· It is not true the reproduction law was approved by centre right
government only. This law obtained also the approval of several deputies
of the center-left parties.
· Mr Rutelli has never been, so far, an Italian Prime Minister.
· Mrs Prestigiacomo is a deputy of Forza Italia party not a member of
Alleanza Nazionale

Massimo Milani MD
Milan, Italy

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 June 2005
Massimo Milani
Medical Director