RIGA, June 21 (Xinhua) -- After a long and heated debate on Thursday, Latvian lawmakers decided that women who have not borne children should also be allowed to donate their eggs to other women for fertility treatment, rejecting a proposal to ban such a donation.
The existing provision allowing healthy individuals -- 18 to 45-year-old men and 18 to 35-year-old women -- to donate sperm and eggs, will thus remain in force under the amended sexual and reproductive health legislation, which the parliament passed by 70 votes to one.
Thursday's vote in the parliament ends a lengthy public debate over the contentious issue of egg donation, which had sparked a series of protests, organized by rights activists in support of the right of young women who have not had children to decide on issues concerning their body, including egg donation.
A picket against the egg donation ban was staged outside parliament on Thursday, ahead of the parliament's decisive vote on the proposal, which had previously gained the support of the parliament's social affairs committee.
The lawmakers arguing against the an at Thursday's parliament meeting said that dividing women into those who have borne children and those who have not was a sexist way of thinking.
Inese Libina-Egnere, a Member of Parliament (MP) of the ruling center-right Unity party, said that such a division would be impossible from a legal standpoint as there is no world register of childless women.
Meanwhile, opposition MP Silvija Simfa voiced concerns about the egg donation procedure's possible harmful effects on women's health.
The amendments adopted on Thursday also provide for the creation of a national registry of egg and sperm donors.
According to Latvian health ministry data, an average of 1,100 assisted fertility treatment procedures are carried out in Latvia per year, resulting in 200 to 300 births. Government-funded fertility treatment is part of a larger government program aimed at improving the general health and well-being of mothers and newborns.