Legal situation surrounding artificial insemination in Austria
Regulations concerning IVF, sperm donation, egg donation, lesbian couples & more
The treatment of infertility in Austria is governed by several laws, the most important of which is the Reproductive Medicine Act. There is also a legally regulated possibility of financial assistance for artificial insemination: the IVF Fund.
Reproductive Medicine Act
The Reproductive Medicine Act (FMedG) was adopted in 1992 and last amended at the beginning of 2015 (2015 Amendment to the Reproductive Medicine Act, FMedRÄG 2015). It regulates the types of treatment used in medically assisted reproduction and the handling of embryos.
Revisions to the Reproductive Medicine Act of 2015
As of 2015, the legal situation in Austria with respect to IVF has changed fundamentally. This applies in particular to the following regulations:
Legal situation with respect to egg donation
Under certain circumstances, treatment with egg donation is allowed for medically assisted fertility treatment. The following prerequisites must be met:
- The donor must be under 30, and the recipient may not be older than 45 years.
- As with the sperm donation, the child has the right to learn who the donor was from the age of 14.
- Donors are not subject to any maintenance obligation, but they are not allowed to charge for the donation of eggs.
- For couples who are not married, counselling from a court or notary about the legal consequences of consent is mandatory. Consent is given in writing – for couples without a marriage certificate, in the form of a court record or notarial act.
Legal situation with respect to same-sex couples
Fertility treatment is no longer performed only for married or cohabiting heterosexual couples, but also for lesbian couples. Single persons are excluded.
Legal situation with respect to sperm donation
The amendment to the law now allows in vitro fertilisation (IVF) not only in the case of sperm donation from one's life partner, but also when using semen from third parties. In such cases, legal counselling from a court or notary is mandatory.
- Mixing sperm donations is prohibited.
- Moreover, the sperm of a single donor may be administered to a maximum of three recipients.
- The child has a right to information and can learn who the biological father is after the age of 14.
Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (= examination of the embryo before implantation) is permitted under strict conditions: After three unsuccessful attempts at IVF, or abortions, an embryo may be examined before it is implanted in the uterus. If, due to the genetic predisposition of a parent, there is a risk of the child having a serious hereditary disease, the use of PGD is allowed.
- Artificial insemination may only be performed by specially trained physicians and in approved hospitals.
- With IVF, only as many eggs as are necessary to obtain good prospects from treatment within one cycle may be fertilised.
- Embryos may not be used for research purposes.
- Semen and eggs used for IVF, as well as embryos, may be kept for a maximum of ten years.
- The cloning of humans is forbidden.
- Embryo donation and surrogacy continue to be banned in Austria.
The IVF Fund for financial assistance
The IVF Fund Act has been in effect since 1st January 2000, and was amended in early 2015.
Who bears the cost of an IVF treatment?
The Austrian IVF Fund is supported by the statutory health insurance funds, the Family Benefits Fund, health care institutions and private insurance companies.
The IVF Fund was established to relieve the financial burden on couples whose desire to have children has not yet been met. If certain conditions are fulfilled, 70% of the costs of artificial insemination (in-vitro fertilisation, IVF) can be assumed, and the couple in question will in this case only have to pay an own-contribution of 30%. The IVF Fund Act regulates the circumstances under which treatment costs are borne by the Fund and where affected couples can turn to.
As part of in-vitro fertilisation, the following steps and treatments are co-funded by the IVF Fund:
- Stimulation treatment Following hormonal stimulation to mature the eggs, the mature eggs are then extracted from the ovaries and mixed with the partner's semen in the laboratory. If fertilisation occurs, the viable cells can be introduced into the woman's uterus.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) An intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is often used to help along the process of supporting fertilisation. It involves introducing a sperm cell directly into the egg cell.
- Cryopreservation If more embryos are created during fertilisation than can be implanted in the uterus, one has the possibility of freezing them and keeping them to potentially use a later point in time. This is called cryopreservationCryopreservation.
- MESA/TESA If there are no spermatozoa in the ejaculate, these can be obtained directly from the epididymides or testes. These methods are referred to as MESA (microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration) and TESA (testicular sperm aspiration).
The following treatments are NOT supported by the IVF Fund:
- Insemination, i.e., the introduction of semen into a woman's uterus, does not fall within the scope of the IVF Fund Act and is therefore not financially supported.
- Provision of donor sperm or egg donation The costs of having donor sperm provided or egg donation will not be covered.