Key Facts – Embryo and the Law
HFEA 1990Activities that require a license:
- Storage of an embryo
- Storage and usage of gametes
- Storage of embryos for over 14 days after mixing the gametes
- Placement of a non-human embryo or gamete in a woman
- Placement of a human embryo in an animal
- Use of eggs taken from embryos
- Changing the genetic structure of a cell in an embryo
- Cloning humans
- The birth mother is the mother.
- The partner of the woman receiving treatment is the father, IF he has consented to the treatment.
HFEA 2008Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis is only to be used if:
(a) establishing whether the embryo has a gene, chromosome or mitochondrion abnormality that may affect its capacity to result in a live birth, and/or: (b) in a case where there is a particular risk that the embryo may have any gene, chromosome or mitochondrion abnormality, establishing whether it has that abnormality or any other gene, chromosome or mitochondrion abnormality.Sex selection is permissible where there is a particular risk that any resulting child will have or develop:
- a gender-related serious physical or mental disability,
- a gender-related serious illness, or
- any other gender-related serious medical condition.
- from a serious medical condition which could be treated by umbilical cord blood stem cells, bone marrow or other tissue of any resulting child
- 10 year licence granted as standard to both the storage of gametes and embryos (it was 5 years under the HFEAct 1990)
- 12 month “cooling-off” period required following any decision by either gamete provider for their embryos to be destroyed
Human Reproductive Cloning Act 2001A licence for stem cell research can be granted for work that will:
- Increasing knowledge about the development of embryos
- Increasing knowledge about serious disease or other serious medical conditions
- Developing treatments for serious disease or other serious medical conditions
Surrogacy Arrangments Act 1985No surrogacy arrangement is enforceable by or against any persons making it.
The FoetusThe foetus has imprecise status under English law.
- A foetus is not a person in the eyes of the law.
- A foetus is not simply part of the mother.
- It is not possible to bring proceedings in the name of the fetus – Paton v. BPAS (1979)
- A foetus cannot be made a ward of court – Re F (In Utero) (1988)
- A foetus has interests which are protected by the law – S v. St George’s NHS Trust (1998)
- A foetus is not directly protected by the European Convention on Human Rights – Vo v. France (2004)