Tough Italian fertility treatment bill slammed
February 12, 2004
ROME — Legislation imposing strict rules on fertility treatments in
Italy was being slammed by experts and liberals Wednesday amid
concerns that it may prompt many couples to seek medical assistance
The bill, which received its final approval in parliament late
on Tuesday, limits treatment to heterosexual couples of
childbearing age who live together.
It forbids egg or sperm donation, the use of surrogate mothers
and the freezing of embryos for use at a later date.
It also rules out treatment for single, gay and elderly women
and states that no more than three embryos can be created at one
time and all three must be implanted in a woman's womb.
All forms of experimentation on embryos, including cloning, are
Advocates say the bill puts an end to a legislative vacuum that
has lasted for more than 20 years, prompting observers to describe
Italy as "the Far West of fertility treatment".
"This is a victory for the natural conception of life," said
Cesare Cursi, a Health Ministry under-secretary.
The bill was also welcomed by members of the Roman Catholic
Church while opposition lawmakers said they were consider proposing
a referendum seeking to repeal it.
Critics described the bill as one of the strictest in Europe and
argued that it would limit the chances of success, prompting many
couples to seek treatment abroad.
"This (bill) is a disaster. It makes me want to change job,"
Elisabetta Chelo, head of a fertility treatment centre in Milan,
told Il Corriere della Sera.
"These limitations will reduce the chances of success by a
third. Many couples will give up while the rich will go abroad,"
Marco and his 30-year-old wife Enza told the Turin-based daily
La Stampa they have been seeking treatment for seven years.
The couple said they would make one final attempt in Italy,
before the bill is signed into law by President Carlo Azeglio
"If even this final attempt fails, I'll go abroad. I am studying
the situation in Britain and Spain, where I am told procedures are
simpler," Enza told La Stampa.
The bill, which imposes tough sanctions on offenders, will
affect an estimated 50,000 infertile couples in Italy.
A 38-year-old woman described by Il Corriere with the pseudonym
of Valeria said she was already beginning to put aside enough money
to obtain treatment abroad.
"We'll need four or five thousand euros for treatment plus the
money for the trip," Valeria said. – Sapa-dpa
Italian senate passes controversial fertility bill [12/12/2003]