Italian law on ART brings problems for doctors and patients

Copenhagen, Denmark: Three presentations to the'21st annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology highlighted the effect of the new Italian law on the choices available to infertile parents. The law came into effect in February 2004 and forbids the fertilisation of more than three oocytes at the same time, says that all embryos obtained must be transferred irrespective of their condition, and forbids embryo freezing.irrespective of their condition, and forbids embryo freezing.

The law had taken away freedom of choice on a matter that fundamentally affects personal beliefs and ethics, Dr. Monica Cattoli, from the fertility clinic Tecnobios Procreazione, Bologna, Italy, told the conference. "I think that a lay government, such as the Italian one is supposed to be, should not allow the dictatorship of the Catholic church to impose a law on all citizens."

Dr. Cattoli and her team analysed the decisions of 840 couples about their embryos which had been frozen for more than two years during the ten years preceding the new law. "We wanted to find out whether the imminent introduction of the new legislation would influence couples towards making a hurried decision on what to do with these embryos", she said.

Out of 849 couples, 66% wanted their surplus embryos disposed of ; 4.3% said they wished them to be used for research; 7.4% wanted to donate them to others; and 21.8% wished for the storage to be extended. Couples who had not had a pregnancy decided more often in favour of disposal and less often in favour of donation than others, and the request to extend storage was more uncommon among those who had already conceived spontaneously.

"Within the first two months of 2004, forty six couples gave instructions to dispose of or donate their embryos even if the two year period was not ended in order to have the right to decide themselves about the fate of their embryos", said Dr. Cattoli. "Over the en

Contact: Mary Rice
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology

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