Politicians and scientists in Italy are calling for the resignation of health minister Girolamo Sirchia this week, over a contentious law on assisted reproduction.

The law, strongly supported by Sirchia, was approved by the Italian legislature last December. It has been branded "medieval" by female parliamentarians and gained worldwide condemnation by scientists.

The legislation bans any testing of embryos for research and experimental purposes, freezing embryos or embryo suppression, and forbids preimplantation diagnosis for preventing genetically transmitted diseases.

It also prohibits donor insemination, limits fertility treatment to stable, heterosexual couples, and states that no more than three cells may be fertilized in vitro and that they must be transferred into the womb simultaneously.

Such tight restrictions, however, have not prevented a series of "test-tube mix-ups" at fertility centers in recent months. In one case, two women had to be prescribed the morning-after pill because each had been inseminated with...

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