What is the future in reproductive technologies and research?Embryo and the Law

By the end of this tutorial you will be able to:

  1. Briefly explain the nature of PGD, saviour siblings and sex selection.
  2. Be aware of the new 2008 HFE Act regulations surrounding these areas and when they will come in to effect.
  3. How these regulations are likely to impact:
    1. prospective parents (and siblings where appropriate)
    2. medical professionals
  4. Outline some of the arguments both for and against the use of these practices in their various forms,; including some of the landmark cases that lead to the development of the 2008 legislation.
In 2005 the Department of Health commissioned a review of the HFE Act 1990, seeking to examine whether the 1990 Act was still a suitable means of regulation for fertility and embryology practices in the present day. The review was considered of particular importance because the 1990 regulations did not set out clear directions regarding certain fields of research/fertility treatments that had become prominent in recent times simply because their potential use was merely a far off concept at the time of writing of the original Act. The resulting HFE Act 2008 came into effect on October 1st 2009. But what are the key changes that the 2008 Act will introduce and how will these affect both medical professionals and patients alike? Three focal areas of recent debate that are now explicitly regulated by the 2008 update are those surrounding:
  1. Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)
  2. “Saviour siblings”
  3. Sex selection