15 years after the introduction of the PMA law, Filomena Gallo, secretary of the Luca Coscioni Association, explains why an update of law 40/2004 is essential
Law 40/2004 updated
Fifteen years ago, in March of 2004, was introduced in Italy the Law 40 which still regulates access to medically assisted procreation techniques today. Over the years we have witnessed a gradual “dismantling” of the initial system of the law within the courtrooms and despite this the current legislative device fails to face reality. For this reason a update of Law 40/2004 adapting it toactuality and the needs of couples who wish to have children and fight infertility. This is the request of the Luca Coscioni Association and its secretary Filomena Gallo who sent us a text about it.
How many couples in Italy have problems having a child? An important number, even capable of filling a large city. Unfortunately, as often happens, politics has tackled this problem but did it the wrong way, following an ideological impetus.
With the law 40 of 2004in fact, it was decided to tackle a complex and socially widespread pathology exclusively through ideology and fundamentalism. The soul of that first version of the law was the same as that of those who thought, and still think, that an embryo should be protected before the person and the health of the woman, or even the simple hope and joy of seeing a child being born, building a family and think about the future. To curb this fundamentalist drift, theLuca Coscioni Association for the freedom of scientific research, who immediately after the promulgation of that law proposed, together with the radicals, a referendum for its abrogation.
Some campaigns of abstention and boycott at the limit of legality, which saw the then head of the CEI Cardinal Ruini in the front row, allowed the holders of that same soul, as well as authors of law 40, to frustrate the referendum, preventing the achievement of the quorum. All this did not prevent the Luca Coscioni Association – with other associations of infertile couples and with the direct participation of couples damaged by that rule – from promoting a series of legal initiatives aimed at undermining that same law on (and against) assisted fertilization. , through the Courts and through the recognition of its unconstitutionality.
He reads them 40 in court
For thirty eight times Law 40 has ended, over the years, in front of a judge. Of these, four times the Constitutional Court intervened to declare theunconstitutionality and once to call Parliament to legislate. Indeed, in 2012, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy for the violation of the fundamental rights of the Convention. Thanks to this, and many other actions in defense of fundamental rights, only in 2016 (latest data available) a total of 14,000 babies were born. Many of them, otherwise, would not be among us today. Here, in a very simple way, is the chronological order of the decisions of unconstitutionality achieved over the years:
2009, the Constitutional Court cancels the ban on fertilization of more than three gametes and the obligation of a single and simultaneous transfer to the uterus;
2014, the Constitutional Court cancels the ban on the application of heterologous techniques;
2015, the Constitutional Court cancels the ban on access to Medically Assisted Procreation for fertile couples with genetic pathologies;
2015, the Constitutional Court affirms that carrying out investigations on the embryo at the request of the couple and transferring only the embryos that will lead to a safe pregnancy into the uterus is not eugenic and consequently doctors do not commit a crime;
2016, the Constitutional Court issues a decision on the prohibition of donation in search of embryos not suitable for a pregnancy in which it asks the Parliament to legislate.
What still needs to be changed
Today, after fifteen years of work, the norm is now completely different from its original version and what is most dear to all of us, who fought to change it, is to continue to defend its correct application throughout the territory of our country.
On the one hand to ensure that it is guaranteed equity in access to care in all regions and that the access limits for age are indicated according to medical-scientific criteria and not on the basis of random and inhomogeneous regional rules. On the other hand, to ensure that the Minister of Health Giulia Grillo insert in the Essential Levels of Assistance (LEA) also the clinical investigations on the embryo and guarantees the real application of all the techniques charged to the National Health Service with a suitable tariff, also providing for a reimbursement for gamete donors, as is the case in the rest of Europe.
To this day, i prohibitions imposed by law 40 which concern access for same-sex couples, single people, gestation for others and donation in search of embryos that will never lead to pregnancy. With regard to the latter aspect, thanks to stem cells from embryos, in other countries the clinical phase has now reached, following that of research, on diseases that in Italy involve millions of people: these are treatments for Parkinson’s, diabetes and many others.
For this reason it is urgent to keep alive a useful contribution to make effective the results achieved so far and, at the same time, to favor the advancement of all those freedoms in our country on which, as the polls show, most Italians it is favorable, in spite of an icy political climate.
This is a common goal for all couples and people who would like to create a family with children and for the many sick people who place their deepest hope in research.