Gender, citizenship and human reproduction in contemporary Italy

Feminist Legal Studies 14 (3):329-352 (2006)

Abstract

This article examines how the recently introduced law on assisted reproduction in Italy, which gives symbolic legal recognition to the embryo, came about, and how a referendum, which would have repealed large sections of it, failed. The occupation of the legal space by the embryo is the outcome of a crusade by a well-organised alliance of theo-conservatives. These groups see in reproductive medicine an uncontrolled interference with their notion of the natural order of things. Such a worldview requires a total ban on stem cell research, limitation of access to reproductive technologies and repressive laws to govern the area. This conservative dream scenario has come closer to being realised by the introduction of a law doing all of these things in the name of the protection of “Life”. In the case of this law, the “life” to be protected is the embryo. In the name of “Life”, scientific advances and individual liberty have been curbed. The politics of embryo citizenship is a politics which values the yet to come over the here and now, purgation over pleasure, and the transcendent over the material

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