NEW LAW OF ASSISTED REPRODUCTION

Created: Wednesday, 29 October 2014 Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 October 2014

NEW LAW OF ASSISTED REPRODUCTION


1.-  Let us see some precedents. The Law 35/1988 regulated by first time in Spain the application of assisted reproduction techniques like the Artificial Insemination (IA) or the Fecundation In Vitro (FIV), just like certain investigation  practices with gametes and human embryos. The law of 1988 forbade obtaining human embryos with any aim except that of the procreation, it was forbidden any type of human cloning, investigation was only allowed with dead or not viable embryos and the use of the Genetics Diagnosis Pre implantanatory (GDP) was restricted to the embryos selection based on its viability and with the aim of discarding its transfer in case of a grave illness
2. The Law 45/2003 intended to solve the grave problem of accumulation of frozen human embryos, abandoned by their parents in the reproduction clinics (according to official data, about 35.000, although it could be many more). The embryos (pre- embryos) that were frozen before the coming into force of the law could be assigned, besides that for other aims, to the investigation. The embryos that were assigned to investigation would be treated in according to the legislation about organs and tissues donation (safety, free of charge,, profit absence) and under a National Centre control. The embryos generated after the coming into force of the law only could be assigned to procreative aims of the couple that generated them or to the donation to other women.
3. The 2003 reform limited to three the number of ovules that could be inseminated and the number of embryos that could be transferred to the woman in each cycle, regulating in an additional protocol the cases in which a higher number of ovules were required. In any case, before initiating a new treatment, the couples should sign a compromise by which the future transference of the embryos that could be obtained were assumed, foreseeing  that if the transference could not be carried out (for instance, due to the death of the mother) the embryos would be donated to other couples with reproductive aims like the unique option. In this manner it was desired to ensure that the doctor would adjust the treatment to the number of children that the couple could assume, avoiding to have frozen embryos without be transferred.
4. This is the case of Anna, 36 years old: “In my first treatment the extracted me 20 ovules, from which  they inseminated me 6. They implanted me 3 and they froze 3. neither with the first nor with the frozen I became pregnant. I had 6 embryos and I did not become pregnant. If they limit to 3 the number of ovules to inseminate, I don’t know what I am going to do.”
5. The Minister of Health, Ana Pastor, alleged then that the objective of the limitation was to avoid the multiple pregnancies, a risk for the mother and for the children. Pedro Caballero, clinic director, regretted to be obliged to disregard the embryos freezing, but he acknowledged: “In Spain too many were being implanted. About 30% of the births were multiple. In our clinic, with 2 and, sometimes, like a maximum 3, we only have an 11% of multiple births. The only explanation is that there are clinics with much success by implanting many embryos”
6. The Executive Committee of the Episcopal Conference stated the “human embryo deserves the respect due to a human person”, because it is “the first state of the human being existence”. To talk about “pre embryos” is a “linguistic fiction” that “hides the fact of the fundamental continuity that the diverse phases through which the development of the new human body goes”, “the good fact would have been that the accumulation of frozen embryos would never had taken place, and that we had not now to decide upon its defrosting and its destiny”. The 2003 reform “should not be rejected without further consideration”, because it foresees “some measures meaning advances in the good track” and because “in the project a will of reducing the evils fruit of a gravely unjust legislation is appreciated”, that of 1988.
7. The new law 14/2006 intends to regulate the application of the assisted human reproduction techniques scientifically proved and clinically indicated; also the application of the prevention techniques and the genetic origin illnesses treatment, just like the assumptions and requirements for the use of the frozen human gametes and pre-embryos. To the effects of this law, the pre-embryo is understood like “the embryo in vitro constituted by the group of cellules resultant of the progressive division of the ovocyte from its fecundation up to 14 days later”. The cloning of human beings “with reproductive aims” is forbidden.  
8. In the case of the fecundation in vitro and related techniques, the new law only authorizes the transfer of a maximum of three pre-embryos in each woman in each reproductive cycle. It allows the couple or the woman to decide the destiny of the surplus embryos: its use by the woman herself or her couple, donation with reproductive aims, donation for investigation, cessation of its preservation without any other use. It authorizes “in limited and exceptional cases” the use for third parties of pre-implantation diagnosis techniques, id est, it allows the couples to conceive a sane child in order to save  a sick brother or sister. It maintains the prohibition, that it never will have a lucrative or commercial character  and that it will be established based on a free, formal and confidential contract between the donor and the authorized centre. The investigation with embryos only could be carried out taking into account the express consent of the donors and in centres previously authorized. The cloning of human embryos for therapeutic use, as it happens in some countries like the United Kingdom, is not authorized.
9. The main objective of the new law is “to facilitate the maximum of couples with fertility problems or to women alone, to be able of having biological children, but besides it regulates more deeply and amplifies the range of application of the techniques for the prevention and treatment of illnesses that today are still incurable”, affirmed the Health minister, Elena Salgado
10. The Episcopal Conference speaker, Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, claimed that the new regulation is “very disturbing for the just and right conscience of the citizens”. The new Law “opens the door to the cloning of human beings, since it only forbids the cloning with reproductive aims and, so, it allows the cloning with therapeutic aims”, it allows “to select human beings, assigned some to life and others to death”. The Law does not offer “a legal protection needed in a legal system, fair for the emerging human life”, since it is based “in a consideration of the first days of the life of a human being as if it were not such, as if it were a controllable object, an object even saleable, object of commerce.
11. From the Christian point of view, we believe that two principles should be handled: 1) opening to the advance of science, that opens new horizons in the possession of the nature and of the life; 2) with respect to the embryo, as a human life that is already underway. We acknowledge as God´s word what it is said in the psalm 139: It was you who formed my inmost part and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I thank you for these wonders you have done, and my heart praises you for your marvellous  deeds. Even my bones were known to you when I was being formed in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my embryo; the course of my days  were all recorded in your book before any of them came to be.
12.  It was about 1995. Agustín and Mª Angeles belong to a Christian community in Lucena  (Cordoba). They married ten years ago, without children, although they desire it since the first months of marriage. Through a nurse, who works in an infertility clinic, they consider the fecundation in vitro. With a condition, that they assume after a personal and communitarian discernment: that only will be inseminated the ovules that are to be implanted. It is to say, that life underway shall in all cases be respected and that no embryo shall be frozen. So, the day of the insemination arrives: “The moment had arrived, says Mª Angeles, everything had turned just fine, four were the embryos that could be implanted. The biologist asked us how many we desire to be implanted and how many were to be frozen; our answer was categorical: the four embryos were to be implanted. When he heard this he put his hands over his head, affirming the this position was very risky and that to be oblige to begin again was at stake, with the consequent loss of time and money. Besides, he insisted that usually the maximum number implanted was three. But we had no doubt and we oblige him to implant the four Not a single embryo was frozen… Fifteen days later we went back to the clinic to verify if I was pregnant or not. The analysis certified that the pregnancy had began. Eight days later they confirmed us, through a sonography, that I had only one embryo”. They have a girl called Maria. It looks like a dream to them.
*Dialogue: In which conditions  is it possible to combine the advance of the science, that opens new horizons in the field of the nature and of the life, and the respect to the embryo, as a human life that is already underway?