Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008

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Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008[1]
Long titleAn Act to amend the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 and the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985; to make provision about the persons who in certain circumstances are to be treated in law as the parents of a child; and for connected purposes.
Citation2008 c 22
Territorial extent United Kingdom
Royal assent13 November 2008
History of passage through Parliament
Text of statute as originally enacted
Revised text of statute as amended

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (c 22) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act constitutes a major review and update of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990.

According to the Department of Health the Act's key provisions are:[2]

  • ensure that all human embryos outside the body—whatever the process used in their creation—are subject to regulation.
  • ensure regulation of "human-admixed" embryos created from a combination of human and animal genetic material for research.
  • ban sex selection of offspring for non-medical reasons. This puts into statute a ban on non-medical sex selection currently in place as a matter of HFEA policy. Sex selection is allowed for medical reasons—for example to avoid a serious disease that affects only boys
  • recognise same-sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos. These provisions enable, for example, the civil partner of a woman who carries a child via IVF to be recognised as the child’s legal parent.
  • retain a duty to take account of the welfare of the child in providing fertility treatment, but replace the reference to "the need for a father" with "the need for supportive parenting"—hence valuing the role of all parents
  • alter the restrictions on the use of HFEA-collected data to help enable follow-up research of infertility treatment.

The Bill's discussion in Parliament did not permit time to debate whether it should extend abortion rights under the Abortion Act 1967 to also cover Northern Ireland. The 2008 Act does not alter the status quo.[3]

The Act also repealed and replaced the Human Reproductive Cloning Act 2001.


  1. ^ The citation of this Act by this short title is authorised by section 69 of this Act.
  2. ^ "Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008: Department of Health". Department of Health (United Kingdom). 1 September 2009. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  3. ^ "MPs support embryology proposals". BBC News Online. 23 October 2008.

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