Sperm donor services to start in Italy

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Sperm donor photo: Shutterstock
14:20 CEST+02:00
Public and private clinics in Italy will soon be able to provide egg and sperm donation services after a ban was lifted in April.

The fertilization treatment will be accessible by mid-June following a ruling by the constitutional court in April, which said that the ban on sperm and egg donors was “unlawful” and “unconstitutional”, ANSA news agency reported.

The regulation formed part of Italy’s controversial law on fertility treatment, or the so-called 'Law 40', which has been in place since 2004 and also bans fertility treatment for single people, same-sex couples and women over child-bearing age.

The change means eggs can be donated lawfully while any fertile man can donate his sperm, Filomena Gallo, secretary of the Luca Coscioni organization, which promotes freedom of scientific research, was quoted by ANSA as saying.

The entire law is now being reviewed by the constitutional court.

Lawyer Maria Paola Costantini, who brought the case to the court, said in April that refusing access to fertility treatment for heterosexual sterile or infertile couples denied them the fundamental right to have a family. However, she and other campaigners who brought the case also argued that the ban should remain in place for homosexual couples, for singles and for women beyond reproductive age.

The original law was introduced by then prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right government and was seen as a way of currying favour with the Catholic Church and winning support from Christian-Democrat voters.

Opponents described it as “medieval”, while supporters said it respected the right of the human embryo, preserved the family and ended years of unregulated fertility treatment.

Opinion polls suggest that most Italians would like to see the law relaxed.

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Austria bans the use of sperm donations and eggs, while France forbids single women and lesbian couples from fertility treatment. In Switzerland, sperm donation is only allowed for married straight couples.

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