Italy allows egg and sperm donations but only for married couples

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The Italian constitutional court has overturned a ban on egg and sperm donation. However, it continues to be the case that only married couples can use donor eggs and sperm.

Elements of Italy's “Law 40” banning donor egg and sperm were declared unconstitutional with immediate effect. But the law still restricts IVF treatments to married couples and bans the use of existing embryos in genetic research. The Constitutional Court is expected to issue a ruling on the question of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or genetic “screening,” and the use of embryos for experimentation on June 18. ahr2

Lawyer Maria Paolo Costantini, who campaigned against Law 40, said that parliament would re-introduce the rules that existed before the law was implemented, so donor-assisted conception could begin straight away.

But health minister Beatrice Lorenzin said that the issue would need to be debated in parliament before it could be implemented.

'It requires wider approval in parliament', she said, saying that there were still issues around donor anonymity and the potential children's right to know the identity of their genetic parents.

An attempt to remove Law 40 via referendum in 2005 failed due to insufficient turnout.

Another aspect of law 40, which states that embryos cannot be screened for genetic disorders before they are implanted, will be discussed by the court on June 18. In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that this contravened the European Convention of Human Rights because it “breached the right to respect for family and private life.”

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