DoH announces revised law on assisted reproduction

Fertility clinics will no longer be able to deny treatment to lesbians and single mothers, after the DoH announced a major overhaul of the law on assisted human reproduction and embryo research.

Health minister Caroline Flint
Health minister Caroline Flint
Under the proposals, the requirement for fertility clinics to consider the need for a father when deciding whether to offer treatment will be abolished.

The proposals contained in the new White Paper include a statutory ban on sex selection for non-medical reasons, explicit rules for embryo screening, and more scope for embryo research.

Further details of the proposed Regulatory Authority for Tissue and Embryos, which will replace the existing regulators the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority, is also included in the paper.

Speaking at the launch of the White Paper, health minister Caroline Flint said: ‘The current law, which has served us well, is in need of revision. There are new ways of creating embryos not envisaged when the current act was drawn up.

‘New techniques to select the sex of a child and ever-increasing possibilities to screen embryos for disease are presenting new challenges and dilemmas.’

These proposals will form a draft bill, which will be presented to parliament next year for pre-legislative scrutiny, she said.

Dr Allan Pacey, secretary of the British Fertility Society (BFS), said that the DoH’s proposals were largely in keeping with the BFS view.

However, he added that the government had missed an opportunity to be more radical and forward thinking.

‘As we now work to very high standards of clinical governance, there’s a good case for regulations being less strict then they were when the laws were first drafted in 1990.’

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