The laws around IVF – what you need to know

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) has revolutionised the conception of children. Suitable for people suffering with a wide range of fertility issues, this is the treatment that could enable a woman to have a baby using scientific processes and procedure.

What is IVF?

Simply put, IVF is fertilisation of an embryo that takes place outside of the body and then returned to the female’s body or alternatively a surrogate carrier to carry through to birth. Of course, there are risks involved and the treatment is not always a success. However, it is an option for people or couples that are struggling to conceive naturally.

Legalities surrounding IVF

Naturally, such a concept process requires the protection of a number of people including, but not limited to, mothers, doctors, surrogates and the baby itself. Given the sensitive nature of the procedure and the potential risks – alongside the high costs – the process is tightly regulated by law. This blog will aim to educate anybody considering IVF on some of the more commonly required legislation:

1. Confidentiality

Naturally, like all medical procedures, you are protected by total confidentiality and the procedure will not feature on future records should the child be born. The only exceptions to this are during emergency or if genetic information is required for a procedure.

2. Embryo limit

In the UK, the number of embryos allowed to be transferred for the treatment is two embryos and three if the patient is over 40 years old. Limits vary per country, so ensure to research extensively if you are considering IVF in another location.

3. Freezing embryos

It is possible in the UK to freeze your embryos should you wish to safeguard them for potential future treatments. Younger individuals may wish to do this if they are concerned about possible fertility issues. It should be noted however, embryos can only be frozen for a maximum of 10 years and there are yearly storage costs involved with this process.

4. Anonymity

This law links more directly to embryo and sperm donors which could then be used in an IVF procedure. Beforehand in the UK there was an option to allow for anonymity in the process. However, the UK has now passed a law whereby children who are born from donated embryos or sperm have the right to information about their genetic parents when over the age of 18.

5. Mixing of embryo, sperm or egg

Currently in the UK the mixing of the above facets for more than one individual is forbidden legally.

6. Gender selection

While not illegal in some countries, the UK in particular prohibits the process of selecting sperm, eggs or embryos in order to guarantee the gender of the baby. The only exception applies when doing so to avoid genetic transmission of linked diseases.

7. Storage and safety

Of course, safety is the primary concern in the process of IVF, and due to this any donated sperm is required to be stored for 6-months before any procedures. During this time, the donor themselves is screened for any potential infections that could be transmitted in the fertilisation processes.

The entire process of IVF is covered by law, and this blog itself only covers the surface-level legislation. If you are considering IVF treatment, please speak to a doctor and consult whether this is the right option for you.

If you are concerned about a legal case, get in touch with our expert team of solicitors at Lysander Law.