Director of Yale Fertility Center Addresses Italian Parliament With the Hope of Changing Law

In an address to the Italian Parliament in Rome on Jan. 12, Yale Fertility Center Director Dr. Pasquale Patrizio provided statistics showing that a 2004 Italian law that restricts in-vitro fertilization (IVF) practices is resulting in fewer pregnancies and higher rates of multiple births.

“My hope is that the parliament will reconsider at least some of the restrictions, especially those that prohibit the freezing of surplus embryos and the use of donor eggs and sperm,” said Patrizio, professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences.

Law #40 does not allow doctors to inseminate more than three eggs per patient and, if all three eggs result in fertilization, the three resulting embryos have to be transferred for implantation. The law also does not allow the use of pre-implantation genetic screening to prevent the transfer of embryos with lethal or severely disabling diseases. As a consequence of these restrictions, fewer Italian women are getting pregnant through IVF on their first try, causing them to go through multiple IVF cycles.

Patrizio and other international participants at the meeting provided the Italian lawmakers with data from the United States, Australia and Europe, and compared them to the Italian data before and after the enactment of Law #40.

The Yale physician hopes he convinced the legislation that the present law is doing a disservice to Italian women and, in addition, is favoring “reproductive tourism” - i.e., encouraging couples to seek fertility treatments in countries with less restrictive laws.

“Italian couples are suffering,” said Patrizio. “I hope we made enough compelling arguments in support of reproductive technologies so that the laws might be changed, giving Italian women more options regarding reproduction.”

Antonio Palagiano, deputy of the Italian party Italia dei Valori, organized the political call for a re-examination of Law #40.

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