The role of the HFEA in regulating developments in bioethics

The HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) is the UK’s independent regulator of fertility treatment and research using human embryos. It is the first of its kind in the world. It aims to ensure that everyone who steps into a fertility clinic, and everyone born as a result of treatment, receives high quality care.

The HFEA does this by licensing, monitoring and inspecting fertility clinics. It provides free, clear and impartial information about treatment, clinics and egg, sperm and embryo donation.

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The HFEA also collects data about fertility treatments. This information is invaluable for many reasons, including for people conceived with a donor who want to learn more about their genetic origins.

The HFEA regulates fertility clinics and projects involving research with human embryos. This involves licensing, inspections and setting standards. Regulation is important because:

  • it ensures that the work carried out is to a certain standard
  • only qualified people can do research
  • research on embryos is only done where there is a real need and in a way that’s ethical

The HFEA provides guidance to clinics and research centres on how to meet their legal requirements in a code of practice.