The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in the UK has called for a modernisation of fertility laws. The aim is to better protect the rights of individuals seeking fertility treatment.

In a press release, the HFEA stated that the current laws are outdated and do not reflect the current reality of fertility treatment in the UK. Here we explore the reasons behind the HFEA’s call for change and discuss the potential benefits of modernising fertility law in the UK.

Protecting Patients

The HFEA’s main concern with the current fertility laws in the UK is that they do not adequately protect the rights of people seeking fertility treatment. The laws were written over 30 years ago and have not been updated since, despite the significant advancements in fertility treatment during that time.

The fertility sector is a unique area of healthcare in the UK and has become far more commercialised over time, Today over 60% of patients in England pay for treatment themselves

Julia Chain, Chair HFEA

The current HFEA enforcement powers are limited to suspending or removing a licence. The HFEA believe these are too slow and blunt. They would like a more agile and gradual approach like other regulators to help shape clinic behaviour.

For example, with treatment add-ons, to ensure only treatments that have been proven to be effective are recommended by clinics.

As a result, the law does not address issues such as surrogacy, same-sex parenting, and the use of donor eggs and sperm. These issues have become increasingly common in recent years, and the HFEA believes that the current laws do not provide enough guidance or protection for those involved.

Access to donor information

This HFEA proposes changes include providing parental and donor choice for anonymity or identifiable information, requiring implications counseling for those using donation services, and legally requiring clinics to inform donors and recipients about the risk of donor-conceived children finding out their donor’s identity before the current legal age of 18.

Advancements in Fertility Treatment

Another reason for modernising fertility law in the UK is the significant advancements that have been made in fertility treatment over the past few decades. The HFEA notes that the current laws were written at a time when IVF was a relatively new technology, and many of the procedures and techniques used today did not exist. As a result, the laws do not reflect the current reality of fertility treatment and do not address many of the issues that have arisen as a result of these advancements. By updating the laws, the HFEA hopes to provide clearer guidance and greater protection for those involved in fertility treatment.

Potential Benefits of Modernisation

Modernising fertility law in the UK could have numerous benefits for people seeking fertility treatment. One of the most significant benefits would be greater protection of their rights and clearer guidance on the legal aspects of fertility treatment. This could help to reduce the stress and uncertainty that many people experience when undergoing fertility treatment, and could also help to prevent legal disputes and other issues that can arise when the legal framework is unclear. Additionally, modernising the law could help to promote greater equality and inclusivity in fertility treatment, ensuring that everyone has equal access to the treatments they need.


The HFEA have launched an anonymous survey to help collect views on some of the key issues. Please take part here.