NEWS

Draft law to monitor artificial fertilization

A new draft bill, made public on Monday by the Health Ministry and titled «Implementation of the Methods of Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAR)» proposes strict rules and conditions in the area of artificial fertilization. The draft bill covers gaps in Justice Ministry legislation regarding the establishment, operation and inspections of artificial fertilization clinics while also addressing the issue of tapping insurance funds to cover the costs of artificial fertilization. The cost of in vitro fertilization comes to 1,000-1,200 euros for medicines and between 1,500 and 3,000 euros for clinic procedures. Currently, funds only cover the cost of the medicines, with only certain funds – the Social Security Foundation (IKA) and civil servants’ funds – offering a 350-euro bonus to go toward clinic costs. Under new legislation, all funds would cover the full cost of in vitro fertilization. A total of 15 percent of couples (of reproductive age) suffer from infertility, with an estimated 200,000 couples affected in Greece. The draft bill fleshes out and supplements legislation banning cloning for the purposes of reproduction and choosing the sex of one’s child. Specifically, the draft bill stipulates that: – MAR methods can only be practiced upon adults. In exceptional circumstances, the genetic material of minors stricken with serious illnesses can be preserved. – The methods are to be implemented in special MAR units which are to operate, subject to strict conditions (staffing, equipment, etc.), in state hospitals, private clinics or other private bodies. The operating licenses of the units are subject to review every three years. – The number of fertilized ova that can be transferred into the potential mother per in vitro fertilization cycle must be limited in order to avoid multiple births. Women aged up to 37 can receive up to two fertilized ova, women aged 37-40 can receive up to three and women aged over 40 can receive up to four. – Genetic material and fertilized ova are made available following the donor’s written approval. Male donors should be over 40 and women over 35. – Genetic material will be stored in gene banks at extremely low temperatures, again subject to the written approval of donors. – Research on genetic material that is not destined to be used for reproductive purposes, for example, the study of embryonic blastocytes, will be permitted. Again, the research can only be conducted following written approval from the donor. The storage of fertilized ova outside the human body 14 days after fertilization is forbidden. – A National Authority for Medically Assisted Reproduction is to be established; it will monitor the implementation of legislation, the operation of special MAR units and gene banks, maintain an archive with the confidential medical details of donors, and keep the public informed. – A presidential decree is to be issued to determine the conditions and prerequisites for insurance organizations to cover the costs of implementing MAR techniques. Vassilis Tarlatzis, assistant professor of obstetrics-gynecology at Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, told Kathimerini that «the draft law covers gaps in legislation in our country regarding the granting of licenses and artificial fertilization clinics’ method of operation.» «An estimated 50 specialist clinics are operating in Greece, most of which are private. This draft bill foresees the monitoring of these clinics and he imposition of fines on violators,» he added. The draft law foresees jail sentences of up to 15 years for those caught practicing reproductive cloning, creating hybrids and determining the sex of a child for non-medical reasons. Those caught buying or selling genetic material and fertilized ova face a 10-year jail sentence.