Tuesday, September 01, 2015

European Court Upholds Italy's Ban On Donation of IVF Embryos For Scientific Research

In Parrillo v. Italy, (ECHR, Aug. 27, 2015), the European Court of Human Rights in a Grand Chamber judgment held 16-1 that Italy did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights when it banned donating for scientific research unimplanted embryos created in carrying out in vitro fertilization. The Court's accompanying press release summarizes the majority opinion:
For the first time, the Court was called upon to rule on the question whether the “right to respect for private life” could encompass the right to make use of embryos obtained from IVF for the purposes of donating them to scientific research. The “family life” aspect of Article 8 was not in issue here, since Ms Parrillo had chosen not to go ahead with a pregnancy with the embryos in question.
The Court, noting that the embryos obtained through IVF contained the genetic material of the person in question and accordingly represented a constituent part of his or her identity, concluded that Ms Parrillo’s ability to exercise a choice regarding the fate of her embryos concerned an intimate aspect of her personal life and accordingly related to her right to self-determination. The Court also took into account the importance attached by the domestic legal system to the freedom of choice of parents regarding the fate of embryos not destined for implantation. It therefore concluded that Article 8 was applicable in this case.....
The Court concluded that Italy had not overstepped the wide margin of appreciation enjoyed by it in this case and that the ban in question had been “necessary in a democratic society”. In consequence, there had been no violation of Article 8.
Six separate partly or fully concurring and dissenting opinions were also filed. As reported by the Times of Malta, a partly dissenting opinion of 5 judges said in part:
 Unlike the majority, we do not consider that embryos can be reduced to constituent parts of anyone else’s identity—biological or otherwise. Whilst sharing the genetic make-up of its biological ‘parents’, an embryo is, at the same time, a separate and distinct entity albeit at the very earliest stages of human development.