[JURIST] Italy’s Constitutional Court [official website, in Italian] on Wednesday struck down provisions set forth in Law 40 [text, in Italian] that prohibited the use of donor sperm and eggs in fertility treatments. The court reported [Reuters report] that the restrictions breached the country’s constitution. This provision joins other portions of Law 40 that have been struck down in recent years, such as one which prohibited fertilizing more than three eggs, and another that required all three fertilized eggs to be simultaneously implanted. Law 40, however, continues to prohibit single individuals and same-sex couples from undergoing fertility treatments. Lawyers involved in the case stated that Wednesday’s decision was effective immediately.
Law 40 has not only been challenged for its fertility treatment restrictions, but also for its ban on both using embryos for scientific research and on screening embryos for disease. In February 2013 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) refused to reconsider [JURIST report] a ruling from the prior August, which held that Italy’s ban on screening embryos for diseases before they are implanted in a womb violates parents’ rights. The court found that this provision of Law 40 violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to recognize the right to privacy and family life. The Italian government appealed [JURIST report] the original ruling in November 2012, defending the ban as a means to avoid risks of eugenic abuses and a potential future of “designer babies.” In December of 2012 a court in Florence also struck down [JURIST report] Law 40’s ban on research using embryos, saying that it unconstitutionally violates fundamental health and freedom of research rights.