Rethinking Human Embryo Research Policies

Kirstin R. W. Matthews
Ana S. Iltis
Nuria Gallego Marquez
Daniel S. Wagner
Jason Scott Robert
Inmaculada de Melo-Martín
Marieke Bigg
Sarah Franklin
Soren Holm
Ingrid Metzler
Matteo A. Molè
Jochen Taupitz
Giuseppe Testa
Jeremy Sugarman
Published in February 2021 before the ISSCR updated its guidelines, the authors provide an overview of the history of the 14-day rule that originated in the US and the UK, followed by an exposition of the arguments in favor and against extending the rule. They also provide an overview of international legislation and raise questions about oversight mechanisms if the 14-day rule were to be extended internationally. They observe no consensus as to what mix of measures would replace the 14-day rule. Some have recommended a new date (e.g., 28 days), while others including ISSCR have suggested a case-by-case review for culturing embryos beyond 14 days. Regardless of the next measures to be adopted, there should be strict oversight, both at the institutional and national level. For example, SCRO committees in the USA could incorporate responsibilities for embryo research oversight. The authors conclude that any considerations of changing the 14-day rule should be set against ample public deliberation and stakeholder engagement, which are essential for maintaining trust in science.