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Italy's Catholic bishops denounce court ruling that OK'd sperm donors

Rome

Italy's Catholic bishops have condemned a court ruling that lifts a ban on married couples using sperm donors for artificial insemination, likening the move to playing God.

"None of us are the masters of anyone else, not even parents with respect to their own children," the secretary-general of the Italian bishops' conference, Msgr. Nunzio Galantino, said Wednesday.

"There is a glaring contradiction between those who proclaim freedom, respect, rights and then do not clearly recognize the rights of those who do not have the chance to express it for themselves."

On Monday, the country's Constitutional Court detailed the reasons behind its April 9 ruling that upheld a couple's right to have a child even in the case of sterility. As part of the ruling, the court overturned a ban on donor sperm that did not come from the husband.

Carlo Casini, president of Italy's anti-abortion Movement for Life, also attacked the court decision, saying it made no reference to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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Casini said the decision could mean that the practice of abandoning children would become "institutionalized and encouraged."

"They are looking at only the interests and desires of adults, not the interests or the rights of children," he said.

In a statement, the Italian health ministry said it would consider every aspect of the ruling -- as well as available facilities, criteria for donor selection and issues such as informed consent -- before acting on the court decision.

Italy's Catholic bishops also recently condemned a new law aimed at speeding up divorce by doing away with a three-year separation waiting period.

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