The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Restrictive Laws Remain to Be Challenged

Jun 20, 2005

In 2004, the Catholic church pressured the Italian government to pass a restrictive law regarding fertility problems. Not only were there all kinds of limitations on using scientific methods to help a woman become pregnant, but the law itself had provisions to make it difficult to overturn.

Those opposing the law were able to put a referendum on the ballot in June, but due to the undemocratic methods used for the referendum itself, the law remains on the books. Of those who did vote, more than three quarters wanted to defeat the law.

If the church and government had been able to put the same restrictions on general elections that they put on this referendum about fertility, there would be NO politicians elected in Italy.

In this June vote, the Italian Catholic Church, led by the new pope, called on the faithful to boycott the vote. The turnout was so low that the referendum could not pass to change the law.

The undemocratic defeat of the referendum is a victory for the Catholic church and its reactionary attitudes. Just as the church attempts to prevent the use of contraception and abortion, so too it wants to restrict the harvesting of a woman’s eggs or the use of artificial insemination. Thanks to religious pressures, the procedure is more dangerous and painful and uncertain for those with difficulties in becoming pregnant.

If a woman or a couple has money, they can go to another country to have scientifically proven medical assistance. It is available in wealthy countries where the Catholic Church is not so powerful. Otherwise, Catholics in Italy with fertility problems will jump through hoops that in no way assist their attempts to have children.

The law on the books in Italy, which "protects life" as the Catholic Church defines it, makes an egg from a woman’s ovary equal in law to a human being. In this way, fertility and pregnancy are used to maintain the church’s ban on contraception or abortion.

If the Catholic Church, or Protestant denominations with similar attitudes as in the United States, laid down rules for their own members who let the church dictate to them, others wouldn’t object. Instead these churches want to impose their views on entire populations, including millions who don’t agree.

If this law is to be stricken from the books, it depends on those women and men who continue to fight against laws reflecting religious views they don’t hold.