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The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008
represents the most radical overhaul of the United Kingdom's embryology laws since the enactment of the original 1990 Act. It is intended to ensure that the legislative framework keeps up with the fast pace of technological, social and medical change. The new Act is a comprehensive amending statute which makes considerable changes to the operation of both the HFEA 1990 and regulation in the area of assisted reproductive technology and embryo research. Major provisions contained in the Act include:
- extending regulation to the creation and use of all embryos outside of the human body, regardless of the processes used in their creation
- increasing the scope of legitimate embryo research activities, allowing hybrid embryos to be created for research into serious diseases
- enforcing a ban on sex selection of offspring for non-medical reasons
- retention of a duty, when providing fertility treatment, to take account of "the welfare of the child", but removal of the reference to ‘the need for a father'
- recognising same-sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos
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