Italy – top court changes strict fertility rules

(Stem Cells News image)

9-Week Human Embryo from Ectopic Pregnancy
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Italy’s Constitutional Court relaxed parts of a law on artificial procreation that had imposed strict rules for fertility treatments.
The judges struck down as unconstitutional one of the most contested sections of the 2004 law, which said only three embryos could be created at one time, and all had to be implanted in the patient’s womb, a court spokesman said.

The judges also introduced stronger wording to ensure that embryos are implanted only if it doesn’t endanger the woman’s health, said spokesman Giovanni Gattarino.
The issue had been put before the constitutional judges by lower administrative and civil courts, which have been considering cases brought against the law by several couples, Gattarino said.

The Constitutional Court left untouched other limitations imposed by one of Europe’s strictest set of rules for artificial procreation.
The law, passed during the previous tenure of conservative Premier Silvio Berlusconi, bars donation of eggs or sperm as well as the use of surrogate mothers, and limits fertility treatment to heterosexual couples who are married or live together.

It also bars the freezing of embryos and research on embryonic stem cells, which scientists believe could yield treatments for a variety of debilitating or fatal illnesses.
Criticized by doctors and opposition lawmakers, the bill survived a 2005 referendum that sought to overturn it also thanks to strong backing of the rules by the Vatican.

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