Legal situation surrounding artificial insemination in Austria
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.