The Analysis of the Donation of Embryo in light of the Rights Protected under the European Convention on Human Rights

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Akbaba Bozkurt Z. B.

III. International Medical Law Congress, Antalya, Turkey, 9 - 12 October 2019, vol.1, no.2351, pp.205-214

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 1
  • City: Antalya
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.205-214
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


In current decade, Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) has been utilized widely, such as embryo donation, that has given hope to a significant number of couples having infertility issues. Not long after the first IVF procedure, which was performed in the 1970s, the clinicians discovered to maintain embryos in frozen storage (cryopreservation). This discovery paved the way for embryo donation that more individuals could be helped toward parenthood by substituting donor sperm for men and donor eggs for woman. In addition, the transmission of genetic disease to the next generation has been prevented with embryo donation. However, the explosion of this method has been discussed on the grounds that it has introduced a myriad of new legal and ethical issues. In 2015, the European Court of Human Rights issued its judgment regarding the status and the use of human embryo conceived with the application of IVF treatment and placed in cryopreservation storage in the case of Parillo v Italy[1] (hereinafter the Parillo case). In the Parillo case, the applicant had a complaint arguing that she was not able to donate her embryos, which were conceived through IVF treatment, to scientific research and was obliged to keep them in a state of cryopreservation. In Italy, there was a ban preventing applicant from donating her embryos to scientific research obtained from an IVF treatment which were not destined for a pregnancy and the applicant claimed that the ban at issue amounted to a violation of the rights protected under the Convention, in particular, the right to respect for private life and protection of property. Given that there is no consensus on the nature and status of the embryo, although there are some beginning to receive a certain degree of protection, the objection of this paper is to outline and discuss many legal and ethical concerns surrounding embryo donation. The primary concern which needs to be addressed is the moral status and value of human embryo. In addition to this, there are other challenges such as the parentage, disclosure, exploitation and eligibility. Therefore, this paper will evaluate these matters by referring to the European Court of Human Rights case-law and conclude that human embryo has a unique nature and status and deserves to be treated with special respect. At this point, it is argued that the principles involved with authentic ethical pluralism, and the formulation of cultural and context-specific guidelines can address the concerns regarding the implementation of embryo donation.

[1] Parillo v Italy App No 46470/11 (ECtHR, 27 August 2015).