Page URL:

Flawed Italian law endangers women

9 July 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 266

Restrictive Italian fertility laws, passed in February this year, have been shown to be 'mediaeval' and are again under debate, reports the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The law on IVF procedures requires that no more than three eggs can be fertilised at once, and that all eggs fertilised must be transferred to the uterus simultaneously, whatever the condition of the resulting embryos.

Now, an Italian woman has undergone a selective termination of a triplet pregnancy in order to protect her health after all three of her IVF embryos successfully implanted. The 26-year old woman, who is very short, thus making carrying a triplet pregnancy even more dangerous for her, had to apply to a court for permission for the termination procedure. The court ruled that if her 11-week triple pregnancy continued, the mother's life would be put at risk. Had she not been successful in her application, the woman planned to travel to London and pay 1000 Euros to have the operation in a private clinic.

The new law bans PGD (preimplnatation genetic diagnosis), the genetic testing of IVF embryos to identify those affected by a serious inherited disorder. Last month, an infertile couple from Lecce in South-east Italy were told by a court that they had to transfer all their IVF embryos, even though they knew that they both carry the gene for thalassaemia, a recessive genetic condition, and that some of their embryos were possibly affected. The woman later miscarried due to the stress, although soon after, she found out that the embryos that had implanted were, in fact, healthy. The BMJ also reports that a Sardinian woman had to undergo an abortion procedure last month when she found out that one of the IVF twins she was carrying had thalassaemia.

In June, Girolamo Sirchia, the Italian Health Minister, said that guidelines on how to apply the new law were being drawn up, to prevent further problematic cases. Ironically, the new law was drafted as a response to concerns that Italy had come to be seen as the 'Wild West of assisted reproduction' because, in the past, people were able to travel to the country for many controversial treatments not available in their own countries. In addition, Sirchia added that the initial impact of the new law seemingly confirms the worst case scenarios that its opponents anticipated. Critics of the legislation, including many liberal and female members of the Italian parliament, said during its passage that it was too restrictive, and that it would place women's health at risk.

Woman forced to have three embryos implanted is allowed fetal reduction to save her life
British Medical Journal |  9 July 2004
14 December 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A group of Italian scientists have lost an appeal to challenge a research funding call that excludes embryonic stem celln (ES cell) research even though the technique is lawful in the country, Nature reports. The Italian health ministry put together an expert committee to produce a set of proposals to attract funding, after the previous stem cell research fund was marred in controversy following allegations that funds were being distributed in a non-transparent and arbitrary manner. ..
13 June 2005 - by BioNews 
The results are in on the Italian referendum on its fertility laws. A low turnout of voters on Sunday 12 June - fewer than 19 per cent - made it doubtful that the 50 per cent turnout rate necessary would be reached, even though the polls were opened for a second day...
6 June 2005 - by BioNews 
A number of Italian scientists have gone on hunger strike in the hope of influencing a referendum that will take place at the weekend on Italy's controversial fertility laws. The referendum, which will take place on 12 and 13 June, asks whether a number of the key provisions in the...
5 June 2005 - by Dr Mauro Costa 
The new Italian law regulating assisted reproduction technology restricts the provision of fertility treatments to 'stable heterosexual couples' who are shown to be clinically infertile. The law, passed in 2004, states that no more than three oocytes (eggs) can be fertilised in an IVF cycle, and that all embryos obtained...
9 May 2005 - by BioNews 
Monica Belluci, the Italian actress who played Mary Magdalane in 'The Passion of the Christ', has told newspapers that she strongly supports a 'yes' vote in next month's referendum on Italy's tough fertility laws. The referendum, set for 12 and 13 June, was approved by Italy's Constitutional Court last year...
4 June 2004 - by BioNews 
An infertile Italian couple has been told by a court that they must transplant all embryos they created during IVF treatment, even though it is known that they both carry the gene for thalassaemia, a recessive genetic condition, and that some of their embryos may be affected. The decision of...
11 February 2004 - by BioNews 
The Italian Parliament has given its final approval to a controversial bill governing assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), said to be the most restrictive in Europe. The Chamber of Deputies voted 277-222 in favour of the bill, with three abstentions. The new law, which will come into force when it...
8 December 2003 - by BioNews 
Italian lawmakers are campaigning for stricter national regulation of the field of assisted reproductive technology. In a debate on new fertility laws that took place in the Senate last week, legislators from a variety of political backgrounds called Italy the 'Wild West of assisted reproduction', because people can travel to...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.