human assisted reproduction

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Techniques to bring about the conception and birth of a child other than by sexual intercourse between the parties. It includes artificial insemination by the husband (AIH) or by a donor (DI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and egg and embryo donation. Such methods mean it is no longer possible to base legal parentage solely on genetic links. Under terms of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 1990, the legal mother is the woman who has given birth to the child, regardless of genetic parentage, unless the child is subsequently adopted or a section 30 order is made. The legal father is generally the genetic father except when the latter is a donor whose sperm is used for licensed treatment under the 1990 Act, or when the donor's sperm is used after his death. If a wife conceives as a result of assisted reproduction, her husband may be regarded as the child's legal father, even if he is not the genetic father, so long as he consented to her treatment. However, this does not hold for all purposes. For example, in a recent case it was ruled that a peer's “son” born by donor insemination could not inherit his father's title when it was found after the peer's death that his wife had been impregnated by sperm from a third party (rather than from her husband) at the relevant clinic.

It is an offence to use female germ cells from an embryo or fetus, or to make use of embryos created from such germ cells, for the purpose of providing a fertility service. Such practice is already banned by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority. The offence is triable only on indictment and is punishable with up to 10 years' imprisonment.

Subjects: Law.

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