Human Fertilisation and Embryology: a Framework for Legislation (Cm.: 259)

Department of Health and Social Security
This report follows the recommendation of the Warnock Report (1984) in creating an independent government body to regulate and oversee assisted reproduction. In the following years, given the diversity of views on the subject, the government made a series of public consultations. By the time the consultation period ended in June 1987, the British Government reaffirmed its intention to have legislation on assisted reproduction, a task for the British parliament. This “white paper” was meant to serve as the basis for Parliament to discuss legislation on assisted reproduction, which led to the formation in 1990 of the HFEA, through the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. The report takes issue with defining the embryo and related categories that have been suggested, like the pre-embryo, as objects to stabilize public debate. Other points of contention include surrogacy, access to donor’s identity, and storage of embryos. Overall, this report is part of the thorough process that the British government underwent in legitimizing assisted reproduction and the use of embryos, over almost a decade.