The role of the regulator: UK perspectives - Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

Julia Chain
In a speech given at a Progress Educational Trust conference, Julia Chain, Chair of the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), calls for the need to modernize the HFEA to “remain at the forefront of regulation in the years to come.” Chain suggests that the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act must adapt to current needs. Among the significant changes she identifies in the last three decades is the increasing role of commercial and private fertility clinics, which necessitate increased regulatory powers to protect patients. Referring to scientific developments, Chain calls for amendments that would “future-proof” legislation to accommodate advances such as mitochondrial donation or embryo culture techniques, such as those that have led to reevaluation of the 14-day rule. A more comprehensive approach to legislation, she suggests, would mean that “legislative change should not be required every time science develops.” While Chain does not call for altering the 14-day rule, she does indicate HFEA’s openness to such changes, suggesting that policy and regulation should react to changes in scientific capabilities.