[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 2 July 2007, 08:05 GMT 09:05 UK
Call for EU-wide fertility rules
Couples will travel to maximise their chance of a child
Laws on fertility treatment should be standardised across the European Union to deter 'fertility tourism', a leading expert has said.

Professor Paul Devroey said current disparities in rules meant infertile couples often had to travel to get the fertility treatment they wanted.

But he warned this was not always based on good science.

Professor Devroey was speaking a European Society for Human Reproduction and Embyrology meeting in Lyon, France.

He said some countries, including the UK, adopt a liberal, science-based approach to fertility treatments.

The variation in basic ethical principles in Europe is so great that it would be very difficult to find a common ground
Professor Bill Ledger
University of Sheffield

However, others, he warned, either dismiss or misuse scientific information.

Professor Devroey, chairman of ESHRE, warned such an approach could increase the risk to the mother and the child.

For example, embryo freezing is not permitted in Italy and so it is mandatory to put three fertilised eggs back into a woman. This increases the risk of multiple pregnancy.

And in Germany genetic screening of embryos is not allowed - because it is viewed as too close to eugenics.


Professor Devroey said the fact that people had to travel to seek treatment was unfair to poorer couples - and often led to poorer treatment.

He is calling for a pan-European think tank to develop a more integrated approach.

Professor Bill Ledger, and expert in fertility treatment at the University of Sheffield, said it was desirable but unobtainable to harmonise EU policy.

He said: "The variation in basic ethical principles in Europe is so great that it would be very difficult to find a common ground.

"We could usefully meet as a European Union to look at quality standards. But in terms of trying to get harmonisation on the use of frozen embryos and donor eggs, that would be very difficult.

"But I would encourage a debate on it rather than sweep it under the carpet."


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific