Legislation on Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAR) is considered to be one of the most liberal and patient-friendly in Europe. It includes all methods of assisted reproduction techniques including In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), surgical sperm retrieval (PESA, TESA, MESA), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), egg donation, blastocyst transfer, frozen embryo transfer and assisted hatching (AH). The Greek law focuses on ensuring that the practice of assisted reproduction techniques is in the best interest of the conceived child. The first law in the field of Medically Assisted Reproduction was enacted in 2002 (law 3089/2002) while a second law (law 3305/2005) regulates MAR treatments.
Medically assisted human reproduction is permitted only in the case of inability to have children in a natural way or to avoid the transmission of a severe genetic disorder to the child.
The legal framework consents to artificial reproduction for cohabiting couples, married couples or to an unmarried or single woman. According to the legislative frameworks in other EU countries, whenever consent to use these techniques is given to single women, it also covers women who have identified themselves as homosexual. Such medical assistance in Greece is permissible provided that the assisted person is within the reproductive age.
Women up to 50 years old can have access to Medically Assisted Reproduction after providing a written consent. In case of unmarried couples or single women, a notarial deed is necessary so that they can have access to assisted reproduction.
If a woman is under 40 years old a maximum of three embryos may be transferred. After this age and if there is a specific indication four embryos can be used.
Consent to all relevant treatments and procedures must always be given in a written form and after appropriate information about the risks and consequences of the techniques of artificial reproduction has been provided. Gametes, embryos, gestation and relevant intermediations cannot be objects of a contract that involves financial retribution.
The following procedures are prohibited: cloning of a human being for reproductive reasons and the selection of gender. The latter is allowed only to avoid gender-transmitted hereditary diseases.
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is allowed upon consent in order to prevent certain genetic diseases or disorders from being passed on to the child.
Heterologous artificial fertilization
Heterologous fecundation is permitted and when for artificial-fertilization the sperm of an external donor is used; because the husband has given his written consent for the treatment, he has the fatherhood of the child, even if the child does not draw its origin from him.
Sperm donation is permitted for men up to 40 years old, while oocyte donors must be up to 35 years old. The use of frozen semen is only allowed. Before joining the procedure of eggs retrieval donors must undergo clinical and laboratory tests and would not be eligible if suffering genetic or infectious diseases. IVF Athens Center requests additional tests recommended by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE).
The identity of the donor of reproductive material is not to be disclosed to the persons who want to have a child. Medical information concerning the donor is kept strictly confidential. Access to this information is permissible only for the child’s medical benefit. The identity of the child and its parents is not disclosed to the donor.
Greek legislation differs substantially from the vast majority of European countries whose legislations prohibit any form of surrogate maternity. The transfer of fertilized ova to another woman and her pregnancy is permitted by court authorization before the transfer.
The authorization is issued after an application by the woman who wants to have a child (“commissioning mother”), provided, among other, that there is a written agreement between the two parties, it is confirmed the commissioning mother is medically unable to conceive, the surrogate mother should not exceed the age of 50 and she is married as well and fertilized ova should not belong to the surrogate mother.
The agreement must be with no financial benefit for the latter. The law clarifies that the following do not constitute financial gain: a. the payment of expenses involved in the achievement of a pregnancy, the gestation, delivery and post-partum period, and b. any incidental loss of profit by the child-bearing woman because of absence from work, or the loss of remuneration for salaried employment which she has missed because of absence related to the purpose of pregnancy, gestation, labor or post-partum period.
One of the prerequisites for granting the judicial authorization for surrogacy was the fact that both the surrogate mother and the commissioning parents should be obligatorily Greek citizens or permanent residents of Greece. Following a modification of the above provision, the surrogacy is now allowed disjunctively to either applicants or surrogate mothers who have their permanent or temporary residence in Greece, thus extending this possibility also to applicants or surrogate mothers who have their permanent residence outside Greece.
Under this new regime, surrogacy in Greece is open for foreigners as well, while Greece is one of the few countries worldwide to provide a comprehensive framework to regulate, facilitate and enforce surrogacy all by giving legal protection to intended parents even coming from abroad.
Further information on the surrogacy proceedings in Greece you may find here.
Medically assisted reproduction after the death of the spouse or the partner is permitted only if both of the following requirements are met: a. the spouse or the partner suffered from a disease that either could affect fertility performance or endangered his/her life, and b. the spouse or the partner had consented via a notary document for post mortem fertilization. Artificial fecundation is carried out not before six months and not after two years from the death of the spouse or partner.
Cryopreserved fertilized ova
The persons resorting to assisted reproduction should decide in common and declare in written form their desire for the future of the cryopreserved reproductive material.
Any cryopreserved reproductive material that is not going to be used for their own treatment (surplus) should be: a. donated for fertility treatment of other persons that the doctor or fertility clinic decides; b. used for research or therapeutic purposes; or c. destroyed.
In case of no common declaration of the persons concerned, cryopreservation can last up to 5 years. After this period of storage, cryopreserved material can either be used for research and therapeutic purposes or be destroyed. Non-cryopreserved fertilized ova are destroyed after the completion of the 14th day post fertilization; even if there were cryopreservation for a short while before that day.