21 Apr IVF treatment in Europe? You’re in safe hands.
Legal protection for IVF patients in Europe is impressive. It’s in a different league, for example, to cosmetic surgery, which still attracts some cowboy operators. Not so for IVF. Strict EU laws on fertility treatment, plus well-regulated industry practice, have been evolving for 30 years. If you choose to have an IVF cycle at a licensed fertility clinic in Europe, you’ll get fair and safe treatment.
We’ve highlighted the benefits of mainland European IVF clinics before. The EU also has a great fertility watchdog. ESHRE, co-founded by British IVF pioneer Bob Edwards, publishes guidelines and organises world-class events for IVF practitioners. Past work has included advice on endometriosis, genetic techniques and the psychological support of fertility patients. Its proactive approach to industry education is unrivalled.
The body also acts as an ethical arbitrator of IVF practices throughout Europe, reminding clinics of the respect and legal duty owed to all. The sanctity of the human genome, and the respective human rights of patients, embryos and IVF babies, is paramount. For patients, the ESHRE website also clarifies the differing laws on IVF in each member state in Europe. The approach of each country to IVF, donor anonymity and compensation is carefully mapped out.
European courts, too, take IVF seriously. In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights castigated Italy for effectively banning PGD (now called PGT-M). Genetic screening had been denied to an Italian couple who were cystic-fibrosis carriers. The court found that Italian domestic law contravened their right to family life. It was absurd that the Italian system allowed medical termination on the grounds of the condition but prohibited genetic testing for it.
As for legislation, Europe has adapted fast to the IVF revolution. The 2004 EC Tissues and Cells Directive was a big moment. It set out high standards for IVF clinics and practitioners in gamete management. These include proper training and inspection, strict rules on compensation of egg and sperm donors, legal-consent requirements and general safety. It spearheaded impeccable ethical practice in the donor arena.
That important directive has undergone further amendments in recent years. But national legislation and guidelines on assisted reproduction in the EU do vary from country to country. Embryo freezing and genetic testing is not allowed in some EU countries. Others set a limit on the number of embryos that can be transferred. Donor eggs are outlawed altogether in Germany and Norway.
Wherever you have your IVF treatment in Europe, member states have worked hard to ensure patients receive a safe and careful service. Standards are managed and monitored nationally and on an EU-wide basis. We happily chose a European IVF clinic and it worked spectacularly for us.
If you’re thinking of having IVF treatment in continental Europe, go for it! Clinics offer great service at competitive prices. Don’t settle for the clinic down the road: there’s a better, cheaper one a short flight away.