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Embryo Protection Law in Germany

According to new figures presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, Instead of preserving life , Germanys embryo protection law has had the unintended consequence of increasing the number of foetuses killed after fertility treatment.

The German embryo protection law, passed in 1991, stipulates that no more than three embryos can be created per cycle of IVF and all three, regardless of their quality, must be transferred to the patients womb at one time, and cannot be frozen or discarded.

For the first time, figures for 2004 from the ESHRE European IVF monitoring consortium show that out of 8,500 deliveries in Germany in 2004 there were 222 foetal reductions performed (representing 2.6%).

Foetal reductions are performed when a woman has a multiple pregnancy and doctors consider it necessary to reduce the number of foetuses she is carrying in order to increase the chances of the remaining ones surviving. It is also performed when doctors discover that foetuses are abnormal.

Professor Ricardo Felberbaum, from the German IVF registry and a member of the ESHRE European IVF monitoring consortium, said: Germanys embryo protection law is not in accordance with ART [artificial reproduction technology] practices now.

Foetal reduction is being used in Germany much more than was expected and the German administration must face up to the situation that the 1991 law prevents optimal treatment of the patient and does not protect the embryo either. The law needs to be changed urgently to reflect the current state of the art.

It is far worse to kill embryos after they have implanted in a womans womb, than it is to take embryos before implantation, when they are no more than a collection of cells, freeze any surplus embryos and transfer no more than one or two embryos at one time. It is best that only those with the highest implantation potential are used, leading to healt
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