Gamble & Ghevaert

Posts Tagged ‘embryo law’

NGA part of HFEA National Donation Strategy Group

Friday, September 7th, 2012

The UK’s regulator of fertility treatment, the HFEA, undertook a wide ranging public consultation last year, which looked at the barriers and motivations to egg and sperm donation in the UK. The review uncovered numerous barriers to donation, some which could be removed through regulation and others which could not be as easily tackled. It is these issues which sit outside of traditional regulation that have led the Authority to set up a national strategy group to find new ways of tackling obstacles to sperm and egg donation.

The HFEA aims were to use their unique position as the national regulator to bring together a wide range of experts to come up with new approaches to raising awareness of donation and improving the care of donors in the UK.

Helen is really pleased to have achieved a place on this valuable group that will make a real difference to the future of sperm and egg donation and the effects upon donors, future parents and ultimately the donor conceived children.

The three core objectives of the group will be to:
1. increase awareness of donation and the information that donors receive
2. improve the ‘customer service’ that donors receive when they contact clinics
3. help donors provide better information about themselves for future families

The HFEA aims to bring together a group of people with diverse experiences, including non-licensed donation services, people with experience of blood, organ or tissue donation, as well as those with experience of sperm and egg donation. This includes people with interest in the welfare of donors, patients and donor-conceived people.

We would love to hear from any donors, future parents or donor conceived to pass on their views to the donation strategy group. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with us at

Click here to read the members of the group

More information can be found on our website at donor conception and co-parenting as well as eggs, sperm and embryos.

ABA Conference in Las Vegas brings together fertility lawyers from across the globe

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Natalie and Helen were delighted to attend the American Bar Association’s Family and Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) conference in Las Vegas (26-29 October 2011).  The conference brought together the world’s leading experts in assisted reproduction and surrogacy law, with lawyers from many US states (where laws vary enormously), Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia, the Ukraine, India, Brazil and Greece.  Natalie was invited to speak about English law at a packed session, and was proud to represent the UK alongside leading fertility law experts from Germany, Italy, Australia and Canada.

The ABA conference comes at a key time, with the Hague Conference putting surrogacy on its agenda for international regulation, as well as increasing numbers of clients crossing borders for surrogacy and ART.  We were thrilled to meet so many professionals who, like us, understand and care passionately about helping people build families successfully.  It was abundantly clear that surrogacy lawyers across the globe need to play a key role, both in helping parents get the best legal protection and recognition possible (while national laws are so disastrously mismatched), and in advocating more widely at an international level as a voice for those conceiving in alternative ways.

Thank you to the American Bar Association for hosting such an inspiring international conference, which we know will be just the first step in building a strong international community of advocates for alternative families.

More information about international surrogacy law is available on our website and in particular check out our area for non-UK advisors and US attorneys.

Law Society lawyer of the week

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

The Gazette, published each week and sent to all solicitors in the UK, has chosen Louisa as this week’s featured lawyer of the week. It follows Natalie and Louisa’s success in achieving a change to embryo storage laws allowing our clients Robert and Melanie Gladwin to continue to store their much-wanted embryos, reported in the press last week.

Embryo dispute case in the news

Monday, August 10th, 2009

The Daily Telegraph have featured a case we are acting in involving a couple from Gloucester who are fighting to save their stored embryos. A question of timing means that Mr and Mrs Gladwin do not benefit from fertility law regulations which would otherwise allow them to store their embryos for much longer than the basic five year period normally permitted by the law. Read the article ‘Woman cancer survivor told she cannot keep frozen embryos’.

For further information on the legal issues see the article ‘Embryo storage law leaves some parents out in the cold’ on our blog, and our Storage Periods for Embryos and Gametes page on our website.

Embryo storage law leaves some parents out in the cold

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Natalie Gamble was quoted in the Sunday Times on 5 July (and in the Daily Mail on 6 July) on problems raised by the government’s proposed new embryo storage laws.

Fertility law allows people facing medical treatment which will make them infertile to store eggs, sperm or embryos for the future. Since embryos can normally only be stored for 5 years, the special embryo storage laws offer a vital lifeline to many young patients undergoing cancer treatments and other medical problems, allowing embryos to be stored for much longer than 5 years. This gives people the time they need to recover from their treatment and make sure they have the all-clear before having a family, giving vital hope at often a very bleak time.

The government is now updating the embryo storage laws to allow more people to benefit, including patients who will need the help of a surrogate mother to carry their embryos in the future.

The change makes complete sense. Under the existing law, only women who are able to carry their own embryos qualify for extended storage, and this restriction has proved very unfair in practice. Take, for example, two women both suffering cervical cancer in their early 20s. The first woman is facing chemotherapy, and she is allowed to store embryos to preserve her chance to have her own child until she is 55 (giving her plenty of time to recover from her cancer and to decide on the right time to start a family). The second woman is facing a hysterectomy, and so knows she will need the help of a surrogate mother to carry her genetic child in the future. She is only allowed to store her embryos for 5 years, which in practice is rarely enough time for her to recover from her illness and find a suitable surrogate mother willing to help (assuming she is ready to do all this in her early 20s). And if she wants a bigger family, she can pretty much forget it.

The distinction barring extended storage for surrogacy is cruel in practice, and the government’s decision to widen the law is very welcome. It recognises that in practice a high proportion of the women the law was designed to help are by definition unable to carry a child as well as being unable to produce eggs.

However, an oversight has left some out in the cold. Although the new rules are deliberately retrospective, and most people facing surrogacy with embryos already in storage will benefit from the new rules, anyone whose five year storage period expires before 1 October 2009 will not be able to apply for extended storage. For those affected, it’s all a matter of timing: embryos first stored for surrogacy after 1 October 2004 will now be able to be stored until at least 2059, but anyone who stored embryos for surrogacy on or before 29 September 2004 will face their destruction this autumn.

There is no rational reason for this arbitrary distinction, and the impact on the people affected is disproportionately severe. As the UK’s leading fertility lawyers, we are calling for the government to look at the proposed new embryo storage laws again before the new rules come into force on 1 October and to ensure that no embryos have to be destroyed unnecessarily against the wishes of the people who created them.

More on embryo storage law from our website.