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Why is Greece considered to have one of the most liberal legislation for fertility treatments and medical assisted reproduction in Europe?

Economou & Economou Law Office > Blog  > Medical Law  > Why is Greece considered to have one of the most liberal legislation for fertility treatments and medical assisted reproduction in Europe?

Why is Greece considered to have one of the most liberal legislation for fertility treatments and medical assisted reproduction in Europe?

Medical assisted reproduction is considered one of the greatest medical achievements of the 20th century. Today, more than 3 million children have been born through IVF worldwide, while in 16 European countries, infants born by assisted reproduction come to 3.9% of all live-births. In Greece, we see that since 2005, approximately 50 reproductive clinics have been registered and are currently operating, a number greater than other European countries with the same population.

Medical assisted reproduction made its substantial appearance in 1978 when the first child was born in Great Britain through IVF. Since then, continuous medical innovation and progress has provided a solution to the problem of infertility but has also given rise to the need to regulate the new family relationships that were emerging, for example with surrogacy.

Greek Legislation

In Greece, we see that cohabiting couples, married couples or unmarried couples and single women are eligible for IVF. According to the legislative frameworks in other EU countries (such as Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, and the UK), 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. Consent to all 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. In the case of an unmarried couple or a single woman, a notarial deed needs to be signed too.

In Greece, Law 3089/2002 and Law 3305/2005 created the legislative framework for the field of medical assisted reproduction (I.I.A.).Surrogacy is one of the most controversial issues not only in the field of I.I.A. but also from a bioethical, religious and social point of view. It should be noted that in many European countries the process of surrogacy is explicitly prohibited. But what is surrogacy and under what conditions is it allowed by law in Greece?

Surrogacy is when a woman who wishes to have a child (intended mother) ‘borrows’ the uterus of another woman (surrogate) into whose body the fertilised egg is transferred. In the Greek legal system, so-called full substitution is prohibited, i.e. the case where the egg comes from the surrogate mother. This is logical that the surrogate mother is prohibited from carrying her own genetic material (egg) because of the psychological burden that this would entail.

Surrogacy is allowed under articles 1456, 1458 of the Greek Civil Code (CC) if certain conditions are met. Not only married couples but also partners in a free union and even a single woman can become parents through surrogacy. The application is always submitted by the woman alone.

In summary, the basic conditions that must be met for medical assisted reproduction are:

In summary, the main conditions that must be met are:

I) The applicant mother must not be over 50 years of age. This is considered the maximum reproductive age according to the Greek Law. However, it is worth noting that there is a Greek Court decision that granted permission to a woman aged 52 on the grounds that the genetic material had been cryopreserved when she was within the age limit. It is evident that the Court in this particular case and with a dilatory interpretation of the law tried and gave a solution to the aspiring mother’s request. 

II) The applicant must be medically unable to conceive, as evidenced by medical documents.

III) The surrogate mother must be between 25-45 years of age, already have one child and have not undergone more than two caesarean sections.

IV) Both the applicant, her husband or partner and the surrogate must undergo tests for sexually transmitted diseases. The surrogate mother shall also undergo a psychiatric examination.

V) The applicant or the surrogate must have permanent residence or at least temporary residence in Greece.

VI) The genetic material must not belong to the surrogate mother.

VII) There must be a written agreement between the parties whereby the surrogate agrees to undergo the surrogacy procedure without financial consideration.  Only altruistic surrogacy is therefore accepted and any kind of financial transaction is prohibited.

The number of embryos transferred depends on the age of the woman and the number of treatment cycles she has had. A woman aged up to and including 40 years of age is allowed to transfer a maximum of three embryos; in the case of an older woman, the maximum number can be four. However, this is something that should be discussed in detail with the healthcare provider. 

Gametes, embryos, gestation and relevant intermediations cannot be objects of a contract that involves financial retribution. In regard to homologous artificial reproduction

However, a decision of the Medical Assisted Reproduction Authority provides for the costs of pregnancy, pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care to be covered, as well as compensation for the surrogate mother’s absence from work.

It is important to mention again that the Legislator only allows a woman to apply. However, the theory and the Courts have been concerned with the issue of the permissibility of an application by only an unmarried man. In one view, the exclusion of a man is blatant discrimination against him which is in direct contradiction to Article 4 of the Constitution and therefore cannot be tolerated. On this basis, two decisions of Greek Courts have already been issued granting in principle leave to an unmarried single man. However, both of these decisions have been appealed by the competent Public Prosecutor so that one of them has already disappeared.

In Greece, medically assisted reproduction after the death of the spouse or the partner is permitted only if (article 1457):

  • The female or male partner suffered from a disease that could either affect fertility performance or endangered his/her life.
  • The female or male partner had consented via a notary document for postmortem fertilization.

Medical Assisted reproduction is carried out not before six months and not after two years from the death of the spouse or partner. There seems to be no common policy on a European level on this subject; 15 legislative frameworks in other European countries appear to be in agreement – under some conditions – with the Greek legislation, while 11 of them prohibit altogether the artificial reproduction postmortem.

According to the opposite and currently prevailing opinion, there is no analogous application of the Law for an unmarried man, since the legislator has explicitly excluded him by the grammatical wording of the relevant Law.  It is clear that the Law reflects the present will of the Legislator which echoes the current moral and social concepts prevailing in Greece today.

The absolutely prevailing view in theory and jurisprudence today is that an application for a surrogacy licence is only allowed to an unmarried woman, a married couple and a couple in a free union (heterosexual). The applicant in all the above cases is only the woman, so in the case of a married couple and a freely united couple, the partner husband consents.

It is also worth mentioning that according to the original Law 3089/2002 the requirement for the application for surrogacy was that both the applicant and the surrogate must be residents of Greece. However, with an amendment to the Law already since 2014, it is sufficient for the applicant or the surrogate to have either their residence or temporary residence in Greece. There is therefore a significant shift in the thinking of the legislator who, while initially appearing not to want reproductive tourism, has apparently allowed it.

The diversity and progressive treatment of surrogacy in Greece is easily understood with a brief overview of the institution in other European and American countries.

In several European countries, surrogacy agreements are considered invalid either because the law explicitly prohibits the practice (for example in France where the practice is considered contrary to public policy and carries both civil and criminal penalties, in Bulgaria, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Italy) or because the subject of the agreement is considered to be illegal or contrary to morality (as is the case in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland). Other States do not contain specific legislative provision on surrogacy (such as the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic), while some other States prohibit commercial surrogacy but do not regulate altruistic surrogacy (this is the case in Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia and Hungary). In the Netherlands, altruistic surrogacy is allowed under very strict conditions, practically only for heterosexual couples in one of 18 licensed clinics, and there are criminal sanctions for certain aspects of surrogacy. In Sweden, on the other hand, there is no specific legislation and it is illegal for IUI clinics to arrange surrogacy agreements.

Ukraine has one of the most favourable legislative frameworks for surrogacy and is one of the most popular medical tourism destinations in the field of surrogacy.

The United Kingdom, although it does not have an altruistic surrogacy law and surrogacy agreements are not enforced, has legislation to determine the legal parents of a child born through surrogacy.

In the U.S. there is no federal legislation and surrogacy is a state issue.Greece is the only EU country with a specific law on surrogacy and in which a child born after court approval is considered the legal child of the applicant and her husband/partner. (Article 1464 of the Greek Civil Code ” In the case of artificial insemination, if the gestation was carried out by another woman under the conditions of Article 1458 of the Civil Code (i.e. after court permission), the mother of the child is presumed to be the woman who was granted the relevant court permission.)

Following Law 4272/2014 (Article 17), Greece is now one of the most popular destinations for foreign mothers applying for the acquisition of a child through the surrogacy procedure.

Medical Tourism in Greece

Why Greece is considered the “Holy Land” of infertility treatment abroad?

Greece appears to be the ideal location for singles or couples thinking about getting medical assisted reproduction treatment abroad.

Let us now discuss why Greece is a great choice for medical tourists seeking top-notch care that has short wait times and alluring business deals.

1.A large number of patients interested in in vitro and egg donation treatment are drawn to the nation by its distinct qualities, history, culture, scenic beauty, temperate climate, and comprehensive infrastructure. Greece has many natural spas with thermal and mineral springs, which make it an excellent destination for recuperating from medical procedures or treatments.

2.When people travel to Greece, they are frequently pleasantly surprised by how friendly and accommodating everyone is. The idea of hospitality originated as a code of conduct and has its roots in Greek culture. The virtue of being kind or courteous to strangers in any situation and fostering a cordial relationship between host and guest is known as “xenia.”In ancient Greece, showing hospitality to others meant more than just being polite to those who lived with you; it also served as a sign of social acceptance and assimilation into the community. A lot of Greek daily life is infused with this code of hospitality, including the way healthcare is provided. 

3.Once a vast empire led by Alexander the Great, the Greek reign spread all the way to the border of India. Few countries have seen their history be as influential on a global level as the history of Greece. The culture produced by the ancient Greek civilization touched every neighbor it came in contact with. Greek history is integral to the history of Western civilization, where democratic politics was first conceived.

4.This rich cultural heritage infuses the Greek daily life, and is a fantastic route of exploration, study or distraction during the time of IVF therapy.

5. There are sixty clinics that offer in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, and the nation is the perfect place to combine IVF treatments with enjoyable vacations. Greece is your best bet if you’re searching for a reputable and trustworthy fertility clinic.

6.Greece continues to provide many tourists who come to enjoy the beaches, gastronomy, culture, and great weather with affordable vacation packages.

7. Stores and costs. Greece is among the least expensive nations in the Eurozone. In resorts in the south and on the islands, higher rates are typically implemented during the holiday season. Food and dining out are typically several times more costly than in other parts of the nation. 

8. When compared to similar establishments in Portugal or Spain, the prices of meals at Greek restaurants are fairly appealing. In most restaurants, a Greek salad costs between 3 and 4 euros.A gyro portion costs between 2.5 and 3 euros.A larger dinner that includes a portion of moussaka, salad, and drink costs about 10 euros. Coffee ranges in price from 1.50 to 5 euros, while a cocktail at a bar or club costs between 7 and 10 euros.

9.When compared to other Southern European countries, lodging is also less expensive. For example, a double room at a seaside resort can be reserved for as little as 25 euros per night, and guesthouses further inland can be found for as little as 18 to 20 euros. The cost of a night in a comfortable 4- or 5-star hotel ranges from 80€ to 150€, while 3-star hotels charge between 35€ and 60€. It can surprise visitors from other countries that point of sales opening hours vary. It’s best to check the local stores’ opening times in advance. What is certain is that stores are open from Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Later on, there’s a siesta break, and stores are open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. only three days a week (Monday through Friday); you’ll have to check which days these are. Sundays are only business days for gas stations. 

10.Traveling to Greece by plane is the most convenient and expedient mode of transportation. Greece’s major airports are located in Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Chania, and Athens. Driving can also be taken into consideration when traveling in European countries. After the Airport of Athens, the International Airport of Thessaloniki is the second busiest airport in Greece. It is situated in the Thermi region, approximately 15 kilometers from the city center. In addition to the numerous flights from overseas and the Greek islands, this airport receives daily flights from Athens. 

If you seek the best family law attorneys for medical assisted reproduction and medical tourism law in Greece, Contact Economou & Economou law office at (+30) 210 3603824 or send us an email at econlaw@live.com

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