Shared Motherhood / ROPA Method / Reciprocal IVF
The Portuguese IVF Law is one of the most progressive in Europe. Female couples have exactly the same rights of access to motherhood as heterosexual couples.
Reciprocal IVF is an extremely straightforward and patient-friendly process from the bureaucratic point of view, with pregnancy being obtained using sperm from a non-anonymous donor.
Both elements of the couple have exactly the same legal rights over the children born, regardless of the person whose eggs are used in the treatment or who carried the pregnancy and delivered the child. Treatments with double donation or embryo donation are also allowed, with the same parental responsibility legislation.
The type of laboratorial techniques used changes from woman to woman and depends essentially on factors such as female age and the possible existence of gynecological complications or other medical factors – since female couples could need Reciprocal IVF not only to share their motherhood, but also to treat possible underlying fertility problems.
Unlike most other countries where these techniques are used, in the case of treatments involving in vitro fertilization and the creation of embryos in the laboratory, in Portugal both partners have exactly the same rights over the embryos obtained during the treatment, which means that they can only be used (or donated to another patient, for scientific investigation or destroyed) with the written permission of both elements of the couple. This is a couple’s project and our Law treats it as so.
That is, even in case of divorce or if the relationship just ends, the person whose eggs were not used will have the exact same rights over the embryos as the partner who is the genetic mother. This is the only way to truly share a motherhood project.
Moreover, in Portugal the children born from donor treatments have the right to know their donor’s identity, which not only is a fundamental right of the children, but could also be very important for reasons of health. Donor registries are kept for at least 75 years, as required by Law, which makes treatments in Portugal particularly safe from a children’s health perspective.
These guarantees make Portugal the safest country for Reciprocal IVF.
In Reciprocal IVF treatments one of the elements of the couple is subjected to ovarian stimulation. Her eggs are then collected and fertilized with sperm from a non-anonymous donor in order to create embryos.
These embryos are subsequently cultured in laboratory for a few days and then transferred to the uterus of the partner - the one who will try to get pregnant. Thus, both elements of the couple participate in the process and share the pregnancy, one giving the egg that originated the baby, the other carrying the pregnancy, delivering the child and eventually breastfeeding.
If in a Reciprocal IVF treatment we obtain more embryos than those that are transferred to the uterus, these remaining surplus embryos may be frozen and used for a new attempt. This can be done by the same element of the couple or to give the partner the possibility of also becoming pregnant of a child who would be a genetic sibling of the child already born.
Shared Maternity (also known as ROPA or Reciprocal IVF) is the most modern and progressive solution for female couples to have a family. However, as it is also a sophisticated medical procedure involving two persons and a non –anonymous donor, it is also a type of treatment that can only be carried out after rigorous medical evaluation and under the strict control of IVF specialists.