ROPA – Shared Motherhood

Portugal has one of the most progressive legal regimes in Europe in the area of Medically Assisted Procreation. In our country, couples of women have exactly the same rights of access to parenthood as heterosexual couples.

Shared Motherhood / ROPA Technique / Reciprocal Fertilization is, from a bureaucratic point of view, an extremely simple and patient-friendly process, being the pregnancy obtained using the sperm of 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 and the person who became pregnant and gave birth to the child. Dual donation or embryo donation treatments are also allowed, with the same legislation on parental responsibility.

Treatment Description

The technique used varies from woman to woman, and depends essentially on factors such as age and the possible existence of gynaecological complications or other medical reasons – since couples of women may want reciprocal fertilization not only to share motherhood but also to address possible fertility problems.

Unlike most countries where these techniques are used, in case of treatments involving in vitro fertilization and creation of embryos in laboratory, in Portugal both partners have exactly the same rights over the embryos obtained during treatment, which means that they can only be used (or donated to another patient, for scientific research or destroyed) with the written permission of the two elements of the couple. This is a couple project, and our Law considers it as such.

This means that, even in a situation of divorce or the end of the relationship, the person who did not provide the oocytes will have exactly the same rights over the embryos as the person who is the genetic mother. This is the only way to really share a maternity project.

Furthermore, in Portugal children born from gamete donation treatments have the right to know the identity of their donor, which is not only a fundamental right of the child but can be very important for health reasons. Donor records are kept for at least 75 years, as defined in the Law, which makes the treatments carried out in our country particularly safe from the child’s point of view.

These guarantees make Portugal the safest country for carrying out Reciprocal Fertilization.