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Changes to IVF laws needed?

Dr Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

17 December 2002

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[BioNews, London] A woman has called for a change to the law, after embryos that she created during IVF treatment with her former husband were destroyed without her knowledge or consent. She is supported in her campaign by her MP, David Stewart, who will now fight for changes to be made to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's (HFEA) code of practice.

Margaret Grant, from Inverness, Scotland, was divorced from her husband in January 2001. Five embryos that had been created using donated eggs and her former husband's sperm had been stored at the clinic where the IVF treatment took place. But when Mrs Grant tried to continue the IVF treatment after the divorce, she was told that the embryos had been destroyed at the request of her former husband.

Mr Stewart said that he didn't think the HFEA code of practice was followed in Mrs Grant's case. He said: 'I'm not suggesting that anything was carried out illegally. What I am suggesting is that the code of practice which is being administered by the authority does suggest that both husband and wife are consulted before embryos are destroyed'.

The hospital trust that governs the clinic used by Mrs Grant said that she was not told because the eggs used were not hers. In a letter to Mrs Grant, it said that it 'was in a difficult position because of Mr Grant's wish that she should not be involved in the decision', and that it had taken advice on the issue from the HFEA.

Meanwhile, the HFEA has announced that it is to further restrict the number of embryos that can be transferred during IVF treatments and monitor more closely the number of triplet births that occur following IVF. Regulations introduced last year say that clinics should transfer only two embryos at a time, except in exceptional circumstances. But, says the HFEA, some clinics routinely disobey the guidelines in order to keep down costs and achieve higher success rates. Suzi Leather, chair of the HFEA said 'some clinicians are only very exceptionally defining 'exceptional' as exceptional - and clearly the time has come to review the policy'.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 17 December 2002   Date Updated: 12 September 2004
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