In vitro fertilization can remind a maze when it comes to laws and regulations. Legal aspects of IVF are different from country to country and if you add religious and personal beliefs you have got yourself a minefield of legal issues. Even in a case where a woman uses her own eggs and sperm of her partner then still the creation of life outside the normal natural process raises controversies around the world. Adding donated eggs or surrogacy to this process complicates the legal maze even more. However you not need to worry with this guide and a bit of effort you will be able to go through this legal maze with certainty.
How is IVF regulated?
All of the medical fields of practice are shaped by ethical and legal policies. However in the case of a fertility physician treating infertility those laws and regulations reach even higher than in any other medical area. Helping to create new life is a great responsibility.
The status of those legalities depend on the country and region where the patient undergoes treatment. Some of the countries have official legal policies and other work only under guidelines of some regulatory body. Also there are countries where there are no laws or regulations concerning the subject of IVF – very often in those countries the procedures of IVF or neither permitted neither prohibited. This very often means that the clinics are left to decide for themselves whether a procedure is available or not.
Countries which have regulated policies:
- Czech Republic
Countries using official guidelines:
- South Africa
What kind of issues are regulated?
A lot of different procedures and additional treatments used in the assisted reproduction technologies can be permitted in one country and prohibited in another. Once you decided what other procedures you want to undergo in addition to the IVF you will need to go step by step through laws and guidelines of the specific country and check if the procedure for example PGD is available there.
The policies go into play from the very beginning even when there has to be a decision made whether you can or cannot have IVF. In one country you might not get permitted to have IVF because you are too old but in another country the age limit might be higher and you will be able to undergo the treatment. Another thing is your marital status. There are countries like China, Turkey or Indonesia where you need to be a married couple to have IVF. On the other hand more liberal countries like USA, Sweden or Spain allow IVF for single women and couples of the same sex. When it comes to IVF for homosexual couples most times female couples are considered parents. That is not the same with male homosexual couples. Male couples can be parents only in limited circumstances in order to protect the sperm donors. The point is that male couples using IVF have to use a surrogate and they are then considered sperm donors.
Other regulated legal aspects:
- Donated sperm and eggs usage: In some countries like UK donors are not fully anonymous and that is why patients often travel to Spain where the donors are anonymous.
- Payment: Most countries don’t allow payment for Surrogacy, there are some countries however where commercial surrogacy is allowed like in India for example. Some countries allow only altruistic egg donations like Canada. On the other hand there are countries where egg donation must be altruistic but there is a reasonable payment for time and effort allowed.
- Time for embryo development: In some countries only early embryos can be implanted and in others the embryos are allowed to develop for several days.
- PGD screening: Most countries allow PGD only for genetic diseases screening and some countries banned PGD completely.
- Amount of embryos transferred: More and more countries decide on only single embryo transfer but you can still find countries where you can do a multiple embryo transfer.
- Period of embryo freezing: Very often countries regulate the permissible time to keep the embryos frozen.