On 8 November 2007, the Government introduced the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill into Parliament.
The Bill is the outcome of an extensive review of the law first announced in January 2004, which included a public consultation in 2005.
The Bill is intended to update the regulation of assisted reproduction and embryo research (primarily by amending the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990), to ensure that it is fit for purpose in the 21st Century.
The Bill will need to be debated and passed by both Houses of Parliament, and then receive Royal Assent, in order to become law. The Bill has begun its parliamentary passage in the House of Lords, and it is anticipated that it will come into force early in 2009.
An earlier draft of the Bill was published as the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill, for scrutiny by a committee of Lords and MPs.
Key proposals in the Bill are:
- ensuring that all human embryos outside the body – whatever the process used in their creation – are subject to regulation
- regulation of “inter-species” embryos created from a combination of human and animal genetic material for research
- a ban on sex selection of offspring for non-medical reasons
- retention of a duty to take account of the welfare of the child in providing fertility treatment, but removal of the reference to “the need for a father”
- recognising same-sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos
- altering the restrictions on the use of data collected by the regulator to make it easier to do follow-up research
- increasing the scope of legitimate embryo research activities, subject to controls.
The Bill is available online, together with Explanatory Notes:
An illustrative text, showing how the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 would look if amended by the Bill, has been produced to assist the reader:
- Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 – an illustrative text
An Impact Assessment has also been produced for the Bill:
- Impact Assessment on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (2008)
Further information on the review of the Act can be found at:
- Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill – related documents