The Human Right of Reproduction: Ovum Donation and Surrogacy

Author:Henning Rosenau
Henning Rosenau
Professor, Dr.
Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg
The Human Right of
Reproduction: Ovum Donation
and Surrogacy
1. Introduction
In Germany, reproductive medicine is also a topic of discussion in the jurisprudential eld. Debates rage
about issues from the legal status of embryos to detailed questions such as whether the German Embryo
Protection Act (ESchG) allows more than only three ova (human eggs) to be fertilised in vitro. However,
the central questions about bioethics*1 were not brought before the attention of the judiciary until 2010.
The Fifth Criminal Panel found that pre-implantation genetic diagnostics (PGD) are consistent with Sec-
tion 1(1), no. 2 of the Embryo Protection Act and are therefore not punishable.*2 The Chamber of the Euro-
pean Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found against Austria because the intended prohibition of heterolo-
gous embryo transfer following ovum donation and the prohibition of sperm donation under Austrian law
would constitute discriminatory treatment*3; this ruling was overturned by the Grand Chamber of the Euro-
pean Court of Human Rights in a subsequent judgment.*4 Even though the case turned out to be a lot of fuss
about nothing, both the prohibition on ovum donation and that on surrogacy were thrown into question.*5
However, the judgment came as a surprise to many, since the medical community had not been o er-
ing pre-implantation genetic diagnostics, on account of great uncertainty about the interpretation of the
Embryo Protection Act and the associated risk of criminal prosecution. Some considered it to have been
excluded entirely. This was probably also the view taken by the legislature, since Section 15 of the new
On bioethics as a part of medical and health law, see Rosenau, Reproduktives und theraupeutisches Klonen, in: Amelung et al.
(Publ.), Festschrift Schreiber, Heidelberg , p. ; Albers, Bioethik, Biopolitik, Biorecht: Grundlagen und Schlüsselprob-
leme, in: Albers (Publ.), Bioethik, Biorecht, Biopolitik, , p. ( .). – DOI:./-.
For a more sceptical view, see Schreiber, Biomedizin und Biorecht, in: Lilie/Bernat/Rosenau (Publ.), Standardisierung in
der Medizin als Rechtsproblem, Baden-Baden , p.  . – DOI:./-.
German Federal Court of Justice (BGH), judgment dated July  StR /, NJW ,  . On the same
issue, see Schroth, Forschung mit embryonalen Stammzellen und Präimplantationsdiagnostik im Lichte des Rechts, JZ 
 (); Günther, in: Günther et al., Embryonenschutzgesetz, Stuttgart , Section (), no. , marginal no.  for
more detail; on the judgment itself, see Merkel, Lebensrecht und Gentest schließen sich aus, Die Zeit, rd of August ;
Dederer, Zur Stra osigkeit der Präimplantationsdiagnostik, MedR ,  . – DOI:./s--
-; Schumann, Präimplantationsdiagnostik auf der Grundlage von Richterrecht?, MedR ,  . – DOI: https://./s---y.
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), judgment dated April S.H. and Others v. Austriano. /,
RdM ,  . See also the comment by Bernat, RdM ,  .
ECtHR (GC), judgment of November S.H. and Others v. Austria – no. /.
Bernat (note ), . For Switzerland, see Rütsche/Wildhaber, note on judgment of the ECtHR (note ), AJP , 
( f.).

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