Italian scientists had been hoping that new guidelines for how to implement the country's controversial assisted reproduction law would soften the ban on embryo research. But those hopes were dashed last week (July 26) as health minister Girolamo Sirchia revealed the main points of the rules.

Approved by the Italian legislature last December, the law upon which the guidelines are based bans a range of activities on ethical grounds, including any testing of embryos for research and experimental purposes. It also establishes that no more than three cells may be fertilized in vitro and that they must be transferred into the womb simultaneously.

The strict rules governing the use of human embryos have gained worldwide condemnation by scientists and have been called "medieval" by women parliamentarians of many moderate political shades in Italy.

"The Italian law is the end of any progress. It is the world's worst law ever seen,...

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