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21st Century Practice Within 21st Century Regulation - New Human Fertilisation And Embryology Act Comes Into Force


30 September 2009

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21st Century Practice Within 21st Century Regulation - New Human Fertilisation And Embryology Act Comes Into Force

The single greatest change to affect the UK fertility sector in nearly two decades will take place tomorrow, Thursday 1 October, as the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) comes into force.

Changes which will come into effect with the new legislation include:

  • increasing the length of time people can store their embryos
  • a ‘cooling off’ period if one partner withdraws consent for embryo storage
  • extending information access rights for donor conceived people and donors.
  • opening the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s (HFEA) Register for research
  • introducing supportive parenting into the welfare of the child provisions
  • banning sex selection for non medical reasons
  • clarifying the scope of embryo research

Chair of the HFEA Prof Lisa Jardine said:

“Fertility treatment and social attitudes have changed radically in the past 20 years and the law was ripe for an update. New and developing technologies mean that people who never dreamed they could have a child, now can. Scientists are carrying out research that was unthought of when the first act was drafted, but that is now helping us to better understand embryo development and genetic disease.

“The revised legislation will bring a new range of benefits. Donor conceived people and donors will have greater rights of access to information about their donor, their siblings or the children born as a result of their donation.

“Researchers will be able to access our Register, one of the oldest and most comprehensive sources of historical data on fertility treatment in the world. There is much we still do not know about the long term implications of fertility treatment and it is an area crying out for thorough investigation.

“As the regulator of fertility treatment and embryo research, we have to make decisions about issues that bring together ethics and health, science and family life, about complex technologies and innovative treatments.  This new Act provides a clear framework for the future and a solid base on which to regulate 21st century practice within 21st century law.”

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Date Added: 30 September 2009   Date Updated: 30 September 2009
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