Stet by Ria Bacon

Monday, June 13, 2005

Culture of death, whatever

The polls closed half an hour ago. Read here on what Italians were (not) voting about.

It's sad to think that such important questions were dependent on the weather - if it had rained, then more people may have voted rather than gone to the beach, just as they do every single Sunday for four months every year. There were even rumours that priests were offering free trips to the coast after Sunday mass.

(Ok, I just made it up, but I'm sure the Pope would have offered to drive if the bus was big enough to spoil the vote.)

As of last night, the turnout figure was only 18.7 percent. Even with the extra few hours today, it's unlikely that the quorum (50 percent) necessary to modify the law will be reached.

So Italy will maintain one of the most rigid laws on human fertilization, one in which
only stable, sterile, heterosexual couples of child-bearing age can have in vitro treatment, and then only by using their own eggs and sperm. The screening of embryos for genetic defects is forbidden. Just three eggs can be gathered and fertilised. The prospective mother is forbidden to refuse implantation of the fertilised eggs. And all three must be implanted simultaneously.
Source: John Hooper, The Guardian
Can science offer some refuge from the moral simplifications of Church and the State? On one hand, we get Nobel prizewinners Renato Dulbecco and Rita Levi Montalcini explaining the importance of stem cell research and its tremendous potential for understanding and eventually curing genetic illnesses. On the other side, we have Bruno Dalla Piccola, Professor of Genetics at Sapienza University here in Rome, who recommends continuing the ban on further work, arguing that,
In years of research, embryo stem cells have not yielded
any results applicable to the cure of human diseases.

Fancy, I didn't know there was a time limit on research.
Sorry, Leonardo, but that helicopter will never get off
the ground, after all, if God had meant us to fly ...
Not to cast aspersions on Professor Piccola's qualifications, but Sapienza University most often makes the news these days for degrees-for-sale scandals.

Tip: avoid visiting an Italian dentist from the Sapienza class of '04.

(For more on the sorry state of Italian universities, read here ...)

The other question that Italians have been asked to consider is the repeal of the law that allows an embryo full legal rights, from the moment of conception ...

Thin ... Edge ... Wedge ...

Join the dots.

The culture of death. We were all embryos once. Say yes to life. And could you put some more cream on my back while you're at it?