After the birth of their daughter in 2006, Rosetta Costa and Walter Pavan learned that they were healthy carriers of an inherited disease called cystic fibrosis. The baby was born with the disease, which mostly affects the lungs.
The couple wanted to extend their family. But when Rosetta became pregnant again in 2010, tests showed that the foetus was affected with cystic fibrosis. They decided to have the pregnancy terminated on medical grounds.
Rosetta and Walter started to look at other options, including medically assisted reproduction, commonly known as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), and a technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which would allow them to screen and select an embryo that was unaffected by the disease.
But under Italian law at the time, medically assisted reproduction was only available for sterile or infertile couples and, since 2008, couples in which the man is a carrier of a sexually transmissible viral disease like HIV or hepatitis. There was a blanket ban on PGD.
Rosetta and Walter were therefore unable to access the treatment they needed.