English law – assisted reproduction

a

Technologies that aid fertilisation

a

Background

Current law

a

Background

Before the development of technology that could assist it, reproduction was largely ignored by English law. This changed with the development of IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) and the first “test tube” baby in 1979. In response to this a committee was set up, chaired by the Philosopher Mary Warnock, to report on these new developments and develop the principles for their regulation. The committee published thier findings in 1984 “The Warnock Report”. The conclusion was that the human embryo is not equal to an adult but is to be protected. It also stated that given appropriate safeguards, research on embryos should be permissible. The Warnock report was the basis of the first statutory regulation, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (HFEAct) 1990. This Act established the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to regulate assisted reproduction. a

Current law

HFEAct 1990 It is unlawful to store an embryo (HFEAct 1990 s 41) or store and use a gamete (HFEAct 1990, ss3 and 4) unless at a licensed clinic.