The law specifies the maximum periods for which eggs, sperm or embryos can be stored (assuming that the egg and sperm provider consent to storage for this period).
The basic maximum storage period is ten years. When this period comes to an end, the eggs, sperm or embryos must be allowed to perish unless the extended storage rules apply.
Special rules allow extended storage for people storing eggs, sperm or embryos because they are prematurely infertile. Storage can be extended in ten-year periods up to an overall maximum of 55 years.
The law says that, at each renewal, the gamete providers must consent to extending the storage, and a doctor must confirm in writing that either gamete provider (or the intended recipient if the gametes/embryos are from a donor) is 'prematurely infertile'. However, in 2014, widow Beth Warren won a legal case which argued successfully that payment of an annual storage fee could be intepreted as deemed renewal of the ten year storage period.
The law in relation to extended storage was changed significantly as from 1 October 2009. Patients who stored embryos or gametes before 1 October 2009 and qualified for extended storage under the old rules can choose whether to use the old or the new rules. The new law is different from the previous rules in several respects: