Dramatic failure for Italian referendum on IVF
For once, people listened to the Vatican's call to abstain.

For the last two days, Italian voters have had the opportunity to vote on a referendum that would lift the country's rules on in vitro fertilization. Italy currently bans egg and sperm donation, embryo freezing, and pre-implantation screening of embryos. Eggs must come from a stable, heterosexual couple, and no more than three embryos can be created—and they all must be implanted at the same time. The referendums would have changed all of that.

But here's the trick: for the referendums to succeed, more than half of Italy's registered voters would have had to vote on them. So rather than fight the referendums at the polls, Italian bishops simply called for voters to stay home.

That did the trick. One-quarter of the registered voters showed up. As Radical Party leader Daniele Capezzone, whose party pushed for the lifting of IVF rules, told the Associated Press, "We lost, and we lost heavily."

"Turnout is thought to have been affected by both a call for abstention made by the Catholic Church … as well as voter apathy," says the BBC, which in an earlier dispatch really played up the lethargy angle ("Apathy hits Italy fertility vote" was its initial headline).

Could laziness be the key to a new strategy for Catholic leaders? Imagine the campaigns:

  • Condoms: Those wrappers are just too hard to open.
  • You're going to take that pill every day?
  • Don't want to mow the lawn? Have more kids.
  • The Da Vinci Code: 454 pages long. The New Testament: About 421 pages.

Tuesday news on the Italian referendum:

  • No plan for Italy abortion campaign, cleric says | A leading cleric has dampened speculation that the Vatican could campaign to change Italy's abortion law after its victory in defense of the country's highly restrictive fertility legislation (Reuters)
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Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's editorial director. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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