Fertilization bill amended

The government has agreed to change sections of a new draft bill on artificial fertilization following strong objections from the Church of Greece, which claimed the proposed legislation would threaten traditional family values, sources said yesterday. Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos is understood to have approved amendments that will prevent women who are unwilling to conceive in the usual fashion from acquiring access to fertility treatment, while making it harder for widows to conceive with their husband’s frozen sperm. The draft bill, presented on September 12, allows human cloning for medical purposes – but not for the purpose of reproduction – prohibits gender selection unless dictated by the threat of hereditary disease and limits women’s access to artificial fertilization to their natural childbearing age. The Church of Greece objected, claiming the draft law «gives unwed women the option of childbirth… and clears the way to permitting unnatural cohabitation.» Under the amended draft, unmarried women will only be allowed to undergo artificial fertilization if unable to conceive by natural means and provided they have the consent of their male partner. In cases of surrogate mothers, both women involved will have to be residents of Greece, to prevent immigration scams and the exploitation of foreign women. And widows will need court clearance to conceive using their husband’s frozen sperm. Under the first draft, such conception was allowed with the husband’s written permission and only for a period of six to 24 months after the donor’s death.