Luca Diotallevi

The Assisted Procreation Referendum and Religion

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During the spring of 2005 a national referendum was held in Italy concerning a law introducing medically-assisted procreation. Promoters of the referendum asked for wider possibilities in accessing medicallyassisted fertilisation and a less strict management of it. A passionate conflict between promoters of the referendum and its opponents partially transformed the campaign into a strong confrontation between two opposite camps of public opinion: one largely headed by secular elites and the other by largely non-secular elites. At the end, the secular side was defeated. The aim of this paper is to look for an explanation of the result of the referendum. It was understood as an opportunity to measure the extra-religious influence of religious organizations in Italy, and particularly of their influence on politics and their new strategies. The current situation of research on secularisation, and above all of the confrontation between old and new paradigms, requires a complex set of hypotheses. Therefore religious identification, civicness and modernisation have been used as concurrent independent variables. The first of these three delivers the best explanation of the results. In the final section the findings are discussed in order to both better understand the particular political event and draw some conclusions concerning the general secularisation debate.

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