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Medically Assisted Procreation and International Human Rights Law

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Since the birth of Louise Brown in 1978, the first human baby resulting from in vitro fertilisation (IVF), developments in reproductive medicine have opened up new opportunities to solve problems related to sterility/infertility and to avoid the transmission of serious genetic diseases to offspring. This article evaluates some challenges to human rights protection arising from medically assisted procreation (MAP), with particular reference to artificial insemination from a donor (AID) and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). It analyses the regulation of MAP at the international, regional and domestic level. Specific attention is paid to two landmark judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on MAP (S.H. v. Austria and Costa and Pavan v. Italy), with a special focus on the interpretation of the concept of family and private life contained therein and on the effects of the ECtHR rulings on the Italian legal order. It concludes that national legislation concerning MAP should be minimal, i.e. should afford substantial freedom and autonomy to the couples in their procreative choices, in accordance with their right to respect for private and family life.


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