J Med Ethics 31:536-539 doi:10.1136/jme.2004.010231
  • Law, ethics, and medicine

The new Italian law on assisted reproduction technology (Law 40/2004)

  1. V Fineschi,
  2. M Neri,
  3. E Turillazzi
  1. Institute of Legal Medicine University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
 Vittorio Fineschi
 Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Foggia, Ospedali Riuniti, Via L Pinto, no 1, 71100 Foggia, Italy;
  • Received 2 August 2004
  • Accepted 29 September 2004
  • Revised 25 September 2004


The Italian parliament passed the law on assisted reproduction after a heated debate. The promulgation of this law (Law 40/2004) is the end point of a long and troubled journey that has seen many bills come and go, all of which have failed. The law consists of a whole set of regulations that will have a great impact on health and on society in general. The law is against many of the technical practices of assisted reproduction; several such practices are banned. This paper outlines ethical and medicolegal issues arising in connection with the law. The law states that no more than three embryos must be created at any one time and all the embryos created must be transferred together even if the couple does not need all the embryos. Embryo cryopreservation is also forbidden, as is assisted reproductive technology (ART), which uses a third party in any way, and the screening of embryos for genetic defects.


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