In today’s Grand Chamber judgment1 in the case of Parrillo v. Italy (application no. 46470/11) the European Court of Human Rights held, by sixteen votes to one, that there had been: No violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned a ban under Italian Law no. 40/2004, preventing Ms Parrillo from donating to scientific research embryos obtained from an in vitro fertilisation which were not destined for a pregnancy. The Court, which was called upon for the first time to rule on this issue, held that Article 8 was applicable in this case under its “private life” aspect, as the embryos in question contained Ms.Parrillo’s genetic material and accordingly represented a constituent part of her identity. The Court considered at the outset that Italy was to be given considerable room for manoeuvre (“wide margin of appreciation”) on this sensitive question, as confirmed by the lack of a European consensus and the international texts on this subject. The Court then noted that the drafting process for Law no. 40/2004 had given rise to considerable discussions and that the Italian legislature had taken account of the State’s interest in protecting the embryo and the interest of the individuals concerned in exercising their right to self-determination. The Court stated that it was not necessary in this case to examine the sensitive and controversial question of when human life begins, as Article 2 (right to life) was not in issue. Noting, lastly that there was no evidence that Ms Parillo’s deceased partner would have wished to donate the embryos to medical research, the Court concluded that the ban in question had been “necessary in a democratic society”.
Additional point on the admissibility of the application: for the first time, the Court examined
whether the procedure for bringing a question of constitutionality, introduced in Italy in 20072,
represented a domestic remedy that had to be exhausted before an application was lodged with it. It concluded that in the present case, with regard to an issue of medically assisted reproduction, this form of review did not amount to an effective remedy that the applicant ought to have used.
Source: ECHR press release