Feeds

UK faces fertility law shake-up

Big issues up for debate

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The UK's fertility laws face a major shake-up in the face of experts' demands that the regulations need to keep pace with scientific advances.

Among the issues up for review are embryo screening, the creation of "designer" babies aimed at treating sick siblings and how exactly to deal with embryos left in limbo when couples undergo IVF treatment but then split up and fail to agree what should be done with them.

Also up for scrutiny are internet sperm-vending sites - not currently covered by the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act - as we reported yesterday. Such sites are doing brisk business due to limited access to fertility treatment for single and lesbian would-be parents and a serious shortage of sperm donors after their right to anonymity was removed earlier this year.

Furthermore, the role of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) will be examined, as will whether or not parents might have the right to choose the gender of their children.

Although most agree that the current legislation is "broadly working", ministers concede it's time for a review. Health minister Caroline Flint said: "We never expected the Act would remain forever unchanged in the face of major developments in science and medicine."

Fertility expert Simon Fishel told the BBC that a system of regulation was needed, but that doctors should be able to make decisions based on patients' needs without having to consult the HFEA or to the courts, explaining: "The Act itself needs to have a much broader brush. "The clinician could know the watchdog would look at fundamental areas, but that would give you clinical freedom."

Some, meanwhile, belive that while the nuts-and-bolts of fertility should be left to the watchdogs, ethical issues should be considered by a separate organisation. Josephine Quintavalle, of the Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: "The HFEA could go on monitoring the work of clinics, but these big ethical decisions, which are related to the whole of society, not just individual couples, need to be discussed in a much more thoughtful forum."

Ministers will present their proposals and then open them to professional and public scrutiny before any change to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.