The legal framework of Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAR) in Croatia in governed by the Law 86/12, passed in July, 2012. It stands for one of the most liberal set of regulations that can be found today in Europe.
The Law allows for both married heterosexual couples as well as domestic partners to have access to fertility care.
The following fertility treatments can be carried out in Croatia:
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
- In vitro fertilization (IVF)
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
- Gamete and zygote intrafallopian tube transfer (GIFT and ZIFT, respectively)
- Sperm, egg, and embryo donation
- Sperm, egg, and embryo cryopreservation
- Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)
In order for a couple to access any of the above listed fertility treatments, they must provide a medical justification that proves they are unable to conceive naturally, and sign a written informed consent.
Assisted reproduction law in Croatia
Couples undergoing a fertility treatment in Croatia will use their own gametes in the first place, although they could turn to donor eggs or sperm in case the former option were unfeasible. A second alternative would be using donated embryos, i.e. the unused embryos that were created for the fertility treatment of another couple.
Embryo transfer can be done either on day 3 or on day 5 of embryo development. By no means embryo culture in the laboratory will be allowed for a period longer than 6 days.
The Law establishes that women can have placed inside their uterus a maximum of 2 embryos per transfer. Three-embryo transfers are allowed provided the patient is 38 years old or older, with diminished ovarian reserve, who has been through repeated IVF failure or cancer. It also applies in cases of severe male factor infertility.
According to the Croatian Law, sex selection is forbidden unless it becomes necessary to avoid severe diseases linked to gender. To be able to select the embryos by gender, patients should have been granted a consent previously by the National Committee of Human Assisted Reproduction.
The Croatian Law on MAR regulates gamete donation as well, and establishes that it should stand for an altruistic act. Thus, buying and selling oocytes or semen is expressly forbidden.
Donated eggs can have different origins: on the one hand, they can be the excess eggs of women who have undergone their own IVF cycle (oocyte sharing), or the eggs of women who have decided to become egg donors without having been through their own cycle previously.
Donor identity is not fully anonymous. Donor-conceived children, either by gamete or embryo donation, have the right to know their genetic origins once they turn 18, including the identity of the person who donated his sperm or her eggs.
Inversely, neither egg donors nor sperm donors have the right to find out about their recipient or donor-conceived child’s identity.
The Croatian Law establishes that a maximum of 3 children can be born per donation, either gamete or embryo donation. Should this boundary be reached, the donated gametes or embryos would be destroyed.
As for double-donor IVF, which is to say, the use of both donor oocytes and donor sperm at the same time for a fertility treatment, it is forbidden by law. Couples in which both members are unable to use their gametes will have no alternative but to turn to embryo adoption.