Date Published: 13 November 2008

HFEA Chair welcomes Royal Assent for HFE Act

Ground breaking new legislation updating the law on assisted reproduction and embryo research has today received Royal Assent. The bulk of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act will come into force in October 2009 although some provisions will come into effect from April 2009.

Welcoming Royal Assent, Professor Lisa Jardine, Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said:

"This is a momentous day for the HFEA and for those with fertility problems. The regulatory system that has served us so well has been renewed. Parliament has provided a clear framework for the future and a solid base on which to regulate 21st century practice within 21st century law.

Large parts of the new Act have seen Parliament bring into law many areas where the HFEA has developed policy, as science and society have evolved since the 1990 Act. It is a tribute to the Chairs and Chief Executives and staff going back to the beginning of the HFEA that Parliament has accepted and built upon the HFEA's work.

A busy 12 months lie ahead before all the changes in the new law come in to force. The challenge now is to build the details and procedures to put Parliament's will into practice. Legislators have given us the 'what' and 'why' - now we at the HFEA have to settle the detail of the 'how' in consultation with the fertility and research sectors."

Provisions relating to parenthood (Part 2 of the Act) will be introduced in April 2009. The remainder of the legislation including regulating the creation of human embryos outside the body, banning sex selection for non medical reasons, provisions clarifying the scope of embryo research and making it easier to do follow up research using HFEA data will be introduced in October 2009.

Next steps include the launch of two major consultations: on the HFEA´s eighth Code of Practice, consent forms and on how the HFEA presents the performance of clinics and their success rates. The Code of Practice will guide the fertility sector in the operation of the new legislation within their clinics. The consultation on clinic performance will consider how the HFEA can present a more complete picture of how a clinic is performing, for example, by providing information on patient experience and quality of service, as well as success rates. The consultations will begin on Monday 17 November for three months.


Source: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA), UK.

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