Italian legislators now face worldwide condemnation by fertility experts for IVF proposals that could encourage multiple pregnancies and put babies at risk.
The International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) has added its voice to that of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, who have already described the proposals as "disastrous". The Federation represents fertility specialists in 55 countries*.
In a meeting yesterday (Tuesday 2 July) in Vienna the Executive Committee of IFFS discussed the legislation by the Lower House of the Italian Parliament, which would make the freezing of ooctyes and sperm acceptable, but ban the freezing of embryos – currently the most effective way to preserve surplus embryos. The legislation is due to go before the Italian Senate for approval within the next few months.
Speaking on behalf of the committee, the President, Professor Roger D Kempers and the Secretary General, Professor Basil Tarlatzis, said that the committee was unanimous in its condemnation of the very restrictive assisted reproduction law, which allows the insemination of not more than three oocytes and insists that these are transferred to the woman at one time.
Professor Kempers said: "We deplore the passing of a law that is likely to promote multiple pregnancy or encourage Italian women to seek assisted reproduction abroad.
"This will result in a high rate of multiple pregnancies and also a high rate of prematurity in the babies, with increased frequency of death and handicap. Embryo freezing, which is also prohibited by the new law, is a well-established and safe procedure. It should not be replaced by ooctye freezing for which there are inadequate data to ensure the safety of the embryo and the resulting child."
MW Communications. July 2002.