Between the Law and Bioethics: Placing the Unborn in Contemporary Italy1

Claudia Mattalucci


Compared to the abortion act (194/1978), the law that regulates medically assisted procreation (40/2004) marked an important change in the status of the unborn under Italian law. Furthermore, the opinions and motions issued by the National Bioethics Committee on the status of the human embryo (1996), the fate of residual embryos resulting from medically assisted reproduction (2005) and the appropriate treatment of embryos that are unsuitable for transfer (2007) show an equally significant change in the field of ethics. By analyzing these laws and opinions from the point of view of cultural anthropology, my paper describes a shift in the symbolic construction of the unborn in contemporary Italy. The different positions in these documents, together with the proposals put forward but never realized, are witness to the tensions between opposing and competing morals and the ambiguities embedded in the very notion of the unborn.

DOI: 10.5901/ajis.2013.v2n3p283

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Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies ISSN 2281 3993(Print) ISSN 2281-4612(Online)

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