The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a case that would have overruled existing Italian law on the use of frozen embryos in research.

The court ruled that Adelina Parillo, who with her partner Stefano Rolla, a film director, created five embryos in 2002, did not have a right to donate her embryos to scientists for research.

Parillo was claiming that existing Italian law regulating embryo research violated the right to privacy and private property. After the sudden death of her partner in 2003 Parillo tried to donate the embryos for research into disease.

In a 16-1 the Human Rights Court found that Italy had not contravened Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, on the right to respect for private and family life.

Much of Italy’s 2004 legislation regulating artificial reproduction has been struck down by the country’s judiciary.

The Human Rights Court said that Italy was to be given considerable room for manoeuvre on the sensitive question, due to the lack of a European consensus and international texts on the issue.

The court also said there was no evidence the woman’s deceased partner would have wished to donate the embryos for medical research.

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