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Preimplantation genetic diagnosis: a step by step guide to recent Italian ethical and legislative troubles
  1. E Turillazzi,
  2. V Fineschi
  1. Department of Legal Medicine, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy
  1. Professor V Fineschi, Department of Legal Medicine, University of Foggia, Via Colonnello D’Avanzo, 1. 71100 Foggia. Italy; vfinesc{at}


Objective: To analyse legislation and medical professionals’ position concerning the doctor’s role in assisted reproduction techniques in Italy, and to discuss the implications for physicians of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).

Background: Until recently a strict interpretation of the assisted reproduction law (40/2004) and the guidelines subsequently issued, lead to denying infertile couples affected by genetic diseases the right to resort to PGD. In October 2006 the Constitutional Court ruled regarding the question of the constitutional legitimacy of the prohibition of PGD.

Discussion: The Constitutional Court declared the manifest inadmissibility of the question of the constitutional legitimacy of article 13 of law 40/2004. The debate has become very animated since the ruling. After the negative sentence of the Constitutional Court, three further sentences recognised the right of couples to obtain PGD, representing a hard blow to law 40/2004 and to the ministerial guidelines; a further confirmation of the untenability of a law that violates fundamental principles such as the right to healthcare for women and the unborn child, the right to responsible motherhood and to informed consent.

Conclusion: It seems that in Italy the legislative inadequacy for medically assisted procreation is reprieved by the courageous decisions of the judges, which refer to the values of the Italian Constitution, in defence of the fundamental rights of the citizens.

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  • Competing interests: None declared.