Controversial Italian gynaecologist Severino Antinori has denied receiving a hefty financial reward for helping a 63-year-old English woman become pregnant. Antinori, famous for his assisted fertility work with postmenopausal women, insists he took no payment from Patricia Rashbrook, who is now in the seventh month of her pregnancy. Rashbrook, he claims, paid 10,000 euro to the clinic where the in vitro fertilisation treatment took place last October. A report in the British daily paper The Sun claimed that the Italian doctor had been paid 75,000 euro for his services. Antinori said that Rashbrook, shortly to become Britain’s oldest mother ever, travelled to a former Soviet bloc country for the treatment because such techniques are illegal in Italy.
Antinori said he was ‘extremely satisfied’ to have helped her. Aware of the controversy the case could cause, the Italian specialist stressed that Rashbrook was a ‘very rare case’ and that he would refuse treatment to most women of her age. ‘It’s very unusual for a woman over 50 to satisfy all the parameters necessary to start assisted fertility procedures,’ he said. Professor Antinori has been a controversial figure in Italy ever since the early 1990s, when he helped a 62-year-old Italian woman give birth following fertility treatment with a donated egg. He also rocked the scientific world in 2001 when he announced plans to use human cloning technology to help infertile couples have children. Such issues have divided Italy deeply in recent years. In 2003, a bipartisan alliance of conservatives and Catholics in the country’s parliament pushed through some of Europe’s most restrictive laws on embryos and assisted fertility.