IVF Laws in Greece
Greece has a fully regulated, comprehensive and transparent MAR (Medically Assisted Reproduction) legal framework. It is considered to be one of the most advanced whilst at the same time liberal. It is no wonder, therefore, that with these laws and in combination with lower IVF costs, and high levels of medical care that Greece has become a prime destination of choice for those seeking fertility treatment abroad.
The Greek law regarding the practice of MAR focuses on ensuring the best interests of any conceived child. The first law in the field of Medically Assisted Reproduction was issued on 19.12.2002 (law 3089/2002 – “Medical assistance in human reproduction” ) as part of a major reform of the Family Law Section of the Greek Civil Code (GCC).
A second law (law 3305/2005 – “Application of medically assisted reproduction”) was issued in January 2005 to properly regulate the application of MAR treatments. These legislations determine the use of all assisted reproduction techniques including In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), surgical sperm retrieval (PESA, TESA, MESA), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), egg/sperm/embryo donation, blastocyst transfer, frozen embryo transfer and assisted hatching (AH). In Greece, the following procedures are banned: cloning of a human being and the choice of sex (only in case of sex-linked diseases or transmitted sexual diseases, it is allowed).
These laws are guaranteed by all officially certified and licensed assisted reproduction clinics in Greece.
Life Clinic is fully certified and licensed by the Greek National Authority of Assisted Reproduction.
Women up to 50 years old can have access to MAR after providing her written consent. The legal framework consents to MAR for cohabiting couples, married couples or to an unmarried or single woman.
It is allowed for any woman who is unable to have a child with her own eggs, for whatever reason, on the condition that her age does not exceed 50 years on the day of the embryo transfer. All egg donors are mutually anonymous, both for those who donate them and for those who receive the donation. The same applies to the child any who resulting from a donation. The selection of the donor is applied according to the phenotype of the person who asks for the donation. For those women who do not have a partner, they can choose the phenotype they prefer, just as they would for their partner. This means that, because of the anonymity law, only non-identifying information can be given to a recipient this includes access to the physical characteristics of the donor as well as their age, country of origin, and level of education.Greek law states that egg donors are thoroughly screened for infectious diseases and are only allowed to donate once certain blood tests have been completed. These include HIV, syphilis, Hepatitis B and C. At Life Clinic we screen further, requiring more extensive testing to ensure patient safety. Donors undergo clinical and laboratory tests and cannot be accepted if they suffer hereditary, genetic or contagious diseases.
Use of donor sperm in IUI and IVF is allowed for every man who is unable to have a child with his own sperm, for any reason. Unlike for woman, for the man, there is no age limit as this is the only way to have a baby. Sperm donation is also allowed for single women who want to have a child. All sperm donors are anonymous, by law in Greece. The use of fresh sperm from a third donor is prohibited.
The legislation remains the same as that of egg donation for women and sperm donation for men.
Sex selection of a child to be born is prohibited, unless to avoid a severe hereditary sex-linked disease. It is prohibited for any other reason, including family balancing.
Freezing of sperm, eggs and embryos
Cryopreservation of sperm, eggs and embryos is allowed. Storage can last up to five years, with the option to extend it for a further five years with a special permit from the National Authority of ART. If a couple does not want to use their eggs, sperm or embryos, they have the following options – to demand their destruction, to donate them to another couple/woman candidates for ART or to offer them for research purposes.
This refers to cases where a woman gestates and gives birth to a foreign embryo conceived with IVF, on account of another woman who wishes to have a child but cannot gestate for medical reasons. Surrogate motherhood in Greece is allowed when the woman who wishes to have a child, cannot gestate for medical reasons. The surrogate mother must be certified to be healthy after undergoing medical examinations.
Surrogacy is a legal process. A written agreement must be done between the couple or single woman who wants the child and the surrogate mother. Surrogacy contracts are valid and enforceable under article 1458 of the Greek Civil Code (GCC). No financial transaction is allowed except for the expenses of the gestating woman related to tests, loss of work, etc. The entire procedure requires a special judicial permit. Please note that traditional and commercial surrogacy are explicitly prohibited by the Law.
Surrogacy in Greece is open for foreigners. It is no longer necessary for both women to be permanent residents in Greece (this was amended in the implementation of law 4272/2014), thus allowing non-Greek Intended Parents to legally apply for surrogacy. Further information on the surrogacy proceedings in Greece please see Surrogacy Proceedings in Greece after the implementation of law 4272/2014
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis and screening (PGD)
PGD is allowed upon consent in order to prevent certain genetic diseases or defects within embryos from being passed on to the child (such as Down’s syndrome, Cystic fibrosis, Hemophilia, Thalassemia, Sickle cell disease, Tay-Sachs disease, Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and Duchennes muscular dystrophy). It is prohibited to use PGD for sex selection (paragraph 26 of Law 3305/2005).
Before any assisted reproduction technique the couple must be informed of the procedure and sign a consent form. This consent can be withdrawn until the moment of transfer of reproductive material to the female body.
Abortion Law in Greece
Abortions are legal in Greece under specific circumstances. According to the Greek Penal Code (Article 304 paragraphs 4 and 5 – ‘Artificial termination of pregnancy‘) abortion is allowed only with the consent of the pregnant woman and only when conducted by an obstetrician-gynecologist with the participation of an anesthesiologist, in an organized hospital unit, if one of the following cases occurs:
a) All pregnancies – where 12 weeks of pregnancy have not been completed.
b) Pregnancies up to 19 weeks – where pregnancy is the result of rape, seduction of a minor, incest or abuse of a woman unable to resist and nineteen weeks of pregnancy have not been completed.
c) When prenatal diagnosis have shown signs of a serious fetal abnormality that induces the birth of a pathological newborn (i.e. genetic damage to the fetus).
d) When there is an unavoidable risk to the health or life of the pregnant woman or indeed if the mental strain caused by an unwanted pregnancy causes serious mental distress. In this case, a relevant certificate of the competent doctor is required.
(as codified by Law 4619/2019).
For more details the Greek Penal Code (Ν. 4619/2019 ) on page see page 43 of the PDF – τεχνητή διακοπή της εγκυμοσύνης. (Language: Greek)