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Human Tissue and Embryos Bill

Date:17 SEP 2007

Dewinder Birk, Barrister, St Marys Chambers, Nottingham. In May 2007 the Government published the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill, Cm 7087 (Department of Health, 2007), dealing with the changes in the legislation governing human fertilisation and embryology. Due to the revised scheme dealing with this area and the overlap with other areas that has been envisaged, the framework will encompass more than just embryo research and assisted reproduction treatment and will include the regulation of human tissue and human blood. The draft Bill has been put before a joint parliamentary committee for pre-legislative scrutiny before being put before Parliament for its consideration. This Committee was due to report by August of this year. Taking into account the necessary timescale (eg the new Act needs to be in place by this time next year as that is when the new body will be fully operational) and the lengthy period of consultation to date (Review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act A Public Consultation (DoH, 2005) and Review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act Proposal for revised legislation, Cm 6989 (DoH, 2006)), it is likely that this draft Bill does give a very good indication of the format and direction of the new Act rather than being radically transformed at this stage. Overall, the forthcoming Act will be a substantial amendment to the current Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (the 1990 Act). It will also be an attempt to clarify and clear up previous loopholes that have been the subject of substantial controversy and judicial challenge.

In this article Dewinder Birk summarises the key provisions of the draft Bill, and considers the position where a child is born as the result of assisted reproduction. For the full article see September [2007] Fam Law.