Italy fertility treatment
(9 March, 2004)
A new law making it more
difficult for couples to get fertility treatment in Italy has come into
The legislation restricts treatment to stable couples and gives a fertilised
egg the same rights as a citizen.
Sperm donations, frozen embryos, and surrogate motherhood are now banned.
Only infertile couples can apply for artificial insemination.
The law - one of the most restrictive in Europe - has drawn support and
criticism from across party lines.
BBC health correspondent Karen Allen says it is widely seen as a Catholic
backlash against Italy's reputation for producing a handful of maverick
Italian doctors recently helped a 63-year-old woman to conceive, and claim
they will be able to clone the first human being.
Under the new law infertile couples can only get treatment at
government-approved centres, and have to prove that they are married or in a
Clinics will also be restricted to producing three embryos per couple. All
must be implanted simultaneously.
Critics say the legislation reduces the chances of conception, and could
increase the number of multiple births.
Our correspondent says a number of Italian fertility clinics are planning to
relocate to neighbouring countries, adding to a trend towards fertility
The Italian government says it is keeping the situation under review, and if
success rates from IVF treatment fall significantly it may reconsider the
Its supporters say the abuse of fertility treatment needed to be curbed, and
the rights of embryos protected.