European Union? Not on reproductive rights and care

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Europe is united on many issues, but the European Union (EU) has not yet reached a shared regulatory framework on reproductive rights and care. Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) regulations are informed by a country’s  social structure, politics, ethics, and religious beliefs, which makes it challenging  to create standard laws for different countries.

The differences are illustrated by Fertility Europe and the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive rights in their comprehensive “Atlas of fertility treatment policies in Europe.” The need for consistent and improved infertility care policies is summarized in IFFS’s recent paper “Declining global fertility rates and the implications for family planning and family building.” 

 While safety and quality standards are determined by EU directives, major differences exist among countries in terms of:

  • Requirements for access to care (marital status, sexual orientation, etc.)
  • Treatments available
  • Egg or sperm donor anonymity 
  • Funding
  • Provision of treatments through National Healthcare Services
  • Number of clinics and treatments performed

Social perception of ART also varies within the EU.

Through the years, this mosaic landscape has fueled cross-border reproductive care, with couples seeking treatments in more progressive or affordable countries. This phenomen is unfair and discriminates against patients who are not able to travel or move abroad. 

The More Joy campaign supports equitable and affordable access to ART treatments and calls on European policymakers to adopt policies to uniformly and fairly reach this goal. 

Authors

Dr. Luca Gianaroli, IFFS Director of Global Educational Activities, S.I.S.Me.R. Reproductive Medicine Institute

Serena Sgargi, S.I.S.Me.R. Reproductive Medicine Institute

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