While the Italian government said Wednesday that it would likely appeal a human rights ruling against its restrictive reproductive law, opponents of Law 40 cheered the ruling and called for the law's demise.
One day earlier, the European Court of Human Rights said parts of Law 40 that forbid families from screening embryos for ailments were too restrictive and violated the rights of an Italian couple that wanted to screen for cystic fibrosis Italian Health Minister Renato Balduzzi said that the government would most likely appeal the ruling out of concern that it could be misinterpreted.
"There are passages in the judgment...which can give rise to worrying interpretations," Balduzzi told Vatican Radio Wednesday But, he added, it might also be possible to revise the law if the government saw strong public demand and a better balance could be found between legal rights and concerns about eugenics.
Eugenics involves a highly unpopular branch of science that advocates weeding so-called "undesirables" from the gene pool. The Strasbourg ruling has given the Italy government the opportunity to create a better law, said Roberta Agostini, spokesman for the National Conference of Democratic women.
Law 40, passed eight years ago with strong cross-party Catholic backing, was poorly conceived with a strong ideological bent "that has not held up to the appeals that many couples have presented," she said.
"This ruling is an opportunity to rewrite in a radical way, taking into account the case law, and deleting absurd and controversial parts in order to respect the rights of women and couples." The remaining elements of the Italian law still stand, including a ban on the use of embryos for scientific research.
Italy has three months to appeal the decision of the human rights court, which also ordered 17,500 euros in compensation for the couple that launched the challenge. Italy's caretaker government has no legitimate right to appeal the Strasbourg ruling because it was appointed to deal with the economic crisis, not reproductive matters, said Aurelio Mancuso, president of Equality Italy.