Spanish couple receive IVF treatment whilst in custody
Antony Blackburn-Starza22 October 2010
Two Spanish prisoners have reportedly received IVF treatment while in prison. Fernando Garcia Jodra, 40, and his girlfriend Nerea Bengoa Zarisolo, 39, were convicted of terrorist activities associated with the Basque separatist organisation ETA in 2004. They are being held in separate prisons and denied physical contact with each other.
The couple applied for fertility treatment under Spanish law, which permits women wide access to reproductive technologies. According to the Spanish press, Mr Jodra, one of the gunmen convicted for the murder of former Spanish government minister Professor Ernest Lluch, was transferred to a different prison to undergo fertility treatment. The couple are reportedly being treated at the Reina Sofia Hospital in Corboda, southern Spain.
The president of the Victims of Terrorism Association, Mr Angeles Pedraza, expressed anger at the news saying the treatment was 'a kick in the face for the victims'. The Spanish press report that, if the treatment is successful, the couple's child will remain with Ms Zarisolo in custody until three years old.
This is not the first time Spanish prisoners have applied for fertility treatment. In 2008, a Spanish woman, Ms Elena Beloki was reportedly granted permission to access IVF while serving a 13-year prison sentence for her involvement with ETA.
The UK courts have ruled prisoners do not have the right to receive IVF while in custody. However, in 2007, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights held the UK Government in breach of its obligations under Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, protecting the right to private life, by denying fertility treatment to Mr Kirk Dickinson who was serving a life sentence for murder. The Australian Supreme Court allowed a woman in prison for fraud to continue with self-funded fertility treatment. Ms Kimberley Castles had begun IVF treatment at a clinic in Melbourne prior to her imprisonment.