Assisted reproduction in Turkey by Asli Tolun, Professor, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Boğaziçi University
The regulation prepared by the Ministry of Health on assisted-reproduction therapeutic applications and assisted-reproduction therapy centers came into effect on March 3, 2010. The points that concern individuals seeking service are summarized. Only married couples can benefit from the services. Only one’s own cells can be used. Donors can not be utilized. Centers violating the rule will be closed for three months in the first violation and the certificates of the personnel will be cancelled indefinitely. If any center or personnel directs to or recommends patients to centers abroad, the center will be closed for three months in the first violation, indefinitely in the second. If any violation to these regulations is known, the center, personnel, mediator, pregnant person and the donor will be directed to persecutor attorney. The regulations also are about the number of embryos to be implanted. All means of sex selection for the embryo is prohibited, unless to avoid the risk of a specific genetic disease. Reproductive cells and tissues can not be stored except for the medical obligations such as a risk to lose the reproductive organ and if the only way to obtain sperm is by surgery. The cells and tissues will be stored together with the donor’s DNA analysis results. After a year of storage, new consent is needed. Otherwise they will be destroyed. If unused embryos are stored, consents from both parents are necessary every year to continue the process of storage. If one of them dies or if they divorce, the stored embryos will be destroyed. The centers will send information on the clients who have received service to a department at the Ministry of Health so that whether all comply with the regulations can be evaluated. The Ministry of Health officials mentioned the Section 231 of the Turkish criminal code, which states that “a person who changes or hides information on a child’s descendance will be punished from one year to three years�?. I am concerned in several ways. First of all, I believe that adults should have a choice to obtain donated sperm or eggs, if they would like to. I do not see anything wrong about it. Also, a single woman should be able to use donated sperm to have a child, if she so wishes. It is not ethically wrong and is part of personal liberty. We have celebrities that have used donated sperm, and those women talk openly about the process. With the new regulations, no one will be allowed to have babies in that way, and neither will they be allowed to speak about it, because it could be considered to recommend some act that is not legal. Lastly, I am concerned about the transfer and centrally filing of personal information of people obtaining such services. Such information may leak. In summary, I am concerned that the regulations infringe on personal freedom.