The Impact of Religion on Attitudes Towards Abortion and Euthanasia. An Empirical Study Among Italian Students

  • Francesco ZaccariaEmail author
  • Francis-Vincent Anthony
  • Carl Sterkens
Part of the Religion and Human Rights book series (REHU, volume 4)


Among the sensitive topics of the current public debate in Italy, bioethical questions are certainly to be found, more specifically those questions about the issues surrounding the beginning and the end of life, namely the ethical legitimacy and the legal boundaries of abortive and euthanasian practices. In this study we seek to explore the role of religion in this debate, not only at the level of church doctrine but also at the level of personal convictions and ideas of a Italian young people, which may shape the future of this debate. The empirical findings of this study, on a sample of secondary school students (N = 1087), show that religious beliefs and practices do have a significant impact on the students’ attitudes on abortion and euthanasia and highlight a relevant role of religion in the current public debate on bioethical issues.


Abortion –Euthanasia Right to life Catholic Church Bioethics Youth – Religion 



Catechism of the Catholic Church. Promulgated by Pope John Paul II (October 11, 1992)


Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community.


Declaration on Euthanasia. Congregation for the doctrine of the faith (May 5, 1980).


Donum Vitae. Instruction of the Congregation for the doctrine of the faith on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation (February 22, 1987).


Evangelium Vitae. Encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II on the value and inviolability of human life (March 25, 1995).


Gaudium et Spes. Pastoral constitution on the church in the modern world promulgated by Pope Paul VI (December 7, 1965).


Veritatis Splendor. Encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II on some fundamental questions of the church’s moral teaching (August 6, 1993).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco Zaccaria
    • 1
    Email author
  • Francis-Vincent Anthony
    • 2
  • Carl Sterkens
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Practical TheologyApulian Theological FacultyBariItaly
  2. 2.Department of Practical TheologySalesian Pontifical UniversityRomeItaly
  3. 3.Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious StudiesRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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