Skip to comments.Actresses Fight Pope Over Fertility
Posted on 06/05/2005 1:01:26 PM PDT by nickcarraway
IN ONE corner the Pope, in the other, a pair of stunning Italian actresses. It sounds like the start of a risqué joke, but what is at stake is the highly serious and highly contentious issue of Italian restrictions on fertility treatment. This week Pope Benedict XVI stepped into politics for the first time since his election six weeks ago, endorsing calls to voters from Italys Roman Catholic bishops to boycott a referendum on the countrys fertility laws.
Addressing the bishops, the Pope said that easing restrictions on assisted fertility treatments would pose a threat to life and the family. The present law, passed last year, restricts the provision of fertility treatment to stable heterosexual couples and excludes single women or same-sex couples.
It also restricts surrogacy and research using human embryos, forbids sperm and egg donation, and limits the number of embryos created with in-vitro techniques to three.
The referendum, the work of liberals who regard the law as oppressive and fundamentalist, seeks to lift the ban on embryo research, remove limits on the number of eggs that can be fertilised, lift the ban on egg and sperm donors and remove language giving fertilised eggs full legal rights.
With a week to go to the vote, the walls of Italian cities are plastered with posters for the yes campaign, backed by the actresses Monica Bellucci and Sabrina Ferilli.
Signora Bellucci, who had her first child last year at the age of 36 with her husband, Vincent Cassel, the French actor, posed naked last year while heavily pregnant in the Italian version of Vanity Fair to highlight the campaign.
She said that the law creates an absurd situation, as if Italian science should stop and leave us trailing behind other countries.
Signora Bellucci added: If I asked a priest or a politician how my body is made, how my ovaries are made or how ovulation works, he wouldnt know what I was talking about . . . this is an issue for scientists and women.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Vicar of Rome and one of Pope Benedicts closest allies, insisted that the law has the merit of safeguarding certain principles and essential criteria after a period in which Italy had almost no regulatory controls on fertility treatment. The Catholic call for abstentions is designed to sink the referendum; if less than 50 per cent of registered voters take part, the result will not be valid.
The Government of Silvio Berlusconi has been accused of deliberately scheduling the referendum for a mid-June weekend, when many Italians will be tempted to head for the beach rather than vote.
The passionate debate has split Italys political parties, with Gianfranco Fini, the Foreign Minister, angering many in his far-Right Alleanza Nazionale, which defends traditional values, by backing the yes campaign.
Signor Fini said that he would vote to repeal most of the law, except for the provision barring sperm or egg donation from outside the couple. He was recently forced publicly to deny rumours in the Italian press that he had taken this stand because he was having an affair with Stefania Prestigiacomo, the attractive Minister for Equal Opportunities, who backs the yes campaign.
Signora Prestigiacomo also denied the reports, which she said reflected the intimidating climate. Signor Berlusconi has not entered the debate but his wife, the former actress Veronica Lario, by whom he has three children, favours the yes campaign. She revealed that, 20 years ago, she had had an abortion at six months after discovering that the child she was carrying had severe birth defects. Veronicas on your side, the Prime Minister told yes campaigners.
Signora Ferilli, as well known for her nude calendars as for her film and television appearances and consistently voted the archetypal Mediterranean beauty, said that she found it intolerable that politicians should decide how and when one can have a child, or prevent having one.
The actress has adopted a businesslike image for the campaign, dressed in a buttoned-up leather jacket with her tumbling auburn hair tied back.
She married two years ago, at the age of 38, but has not yet had children. If necessary I would not hesitate to have recourse to assisted conception, Signora Ferilli told LEspresso magazine.
As for the Church, Signora Ferilli said that it had no business interfering in private griefs and dramas, and certainly does not have the right to impose its rules on an entire country. It doesnt happen in other nations so why should it happen in Italy?
That's so sad. Wasn't Monica Bellucci the actress who portrayed St. Mary Magdalene in Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ?" Pathetic that none of that sunk in and now she's attacking the Faith and the Holy Father like that.