Health Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė said after the Government’s sitting on Friday that Lithuania is close to being the last country in the European Union (EU) to regulate artificial insemination. It is estimated that nearly 50,000 couples are unable to have children, while the procedure itself is very expensive, costing around EUR 2,500. According to the minister, it will be possible to compensate for fertility procedures only after the law passes, even though the Government allocated funds for compensations already in December 2014.
Some have agreed with a conservative approach to artificial insemination and proposed to limit the number of produced embryos to three. In addition, the draft law stipulates that only married couples or couples living in partnership would have the right to artificial insemination.
However, Health Minister Šalaševičiūtė has pointed out that in reality only married women would be able to undergo the procedure because partnership has not yet been legalised in Lithuania. Furthermore, according to the minister, case law in Europe has shown that courts rule in favour of every woman to be able to undergo the procedure regardless of marital status.
The health minister also spoke against the proposal of the Lithuanian Bishops’ Conference, based on which only ova but not embryos would be frozen during artificial insemination. The Church regards an embryo as a human being and thus opposes its freezing. According to the health minister, the practice of other countries has demonstrated that the use of embryos in artificial insemination brought far better results.
The Lithuanian Parliament will have to decide on the number of embryos to be frozen because the Government has not set a concrete number in its findings. Nonetheless, it has been mentioned earlier that no more than 10 embryos should be frozen.
The law on artificial insemination might enter into force on 1 January 2016 at the earliest.