Fertility Law

Published: 14/04/2023

Legal issues surrounding fertility

There are many social, ethical, and legal implications of Fertility treatment. Legal and ethical issues are complex and are heavily regulated in the UK by the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology authority).  The HFEA is the regulator of fertility within the UK.  The HFEA licence, monitor and inspect UK Fertility clinics to make sure that they provide high-quality care. Legal issues that are regulated include:

The use of donor sperm and eggs

The law regarding the use of donor sperm and eggs requires all donors to give identifying information to the HFEA. It also allows any children conceived to contact the HFEA when they are 18 years or older to receive identifying information about their donor. 

The use of payment of surrogates

In the UK you are not allowed to pay surrogates for carrying your baby, however you can reimburse them for any reasonable services that they incur such as loss of earning and maternity clothes etc. 

The selection process for embryos 

In the UK you can have Pre genetic diagnosis to check for chromosomal abnormalities and to exclude passing down genes however you are not allowed to know the sex of the embryo.

The number of embryos that can be transferred.

For other countries this may vary but, in the UK, the maximum number of embryos you can transfer is 3, but each clinic has their own selection process, and this can vary. 

The maximum storage time of frozen gametes and embryos

In some countries storage of gametes and embryos is unlimited. In the UK the maximum time for storage is 55 years and this was only changed recently. 

The use of frozen gametes and embryos after death 

Couples and individuals can give consents for their gametes and or embryos created to be used in the event of their death, this does come with further implications and consents. 

Ethical issues surrounding fertility are very individual.  There are Is a spectrum of views and opinions and ultimately it is about what you as an individual or couple are comfortable with. 

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