// you’re reading...

Assisted Reproduction

“Bonfire Of The Quangos” Brings About The End Of The HFEA In The UK

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has been shut down as part of budget cutting:

The government today delivered its promised “bonfire of the quangos”, abolishing 192 government agencies, merging another 118 and substantially reforming a further 171.

Thousands of jobs will go and as many will be transferred into new departments. It amounts to the biggest shakeup of government the coalition has made to date.

Health bodies are dealt a particularly heavy blow with the Health Protection Agency being scrapped and its functions brought into the Department of Health. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the Human Genetics Commission and the Human Tissue Authority will all be scrapped.

And not everyone is happy about it:

The Government has been criticised over plans to scrap the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) by the body’s former chairman.

Baroness Deech said splitting the organisation, which regulates IVF treatment and embryo research, would not save money and would threaten its functions.

And the former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, a member of the HFEA until last year, warned that abolishing the body could make “unfortunate instances” more likely.

Health Minister Earl Howe said at question time in the House of Lords that the Government proposed to transfer the functions of the HFEA to other bodies by the end of the Parliament.

Lady Deech, chairman of the HFEA from 1994 to 2002, asked: “Will you give the House an assurance that you will stand by the pre-legislative scrutiny committee of three years ago and not endanger the statutory functions of the HFEA, including the all-important database and the guidance of patients, by splitting up the functions between five other committees, thereby saving no money at all and endangering the world-wide reputation of this model of regulation?”

Lord Howe said that 20 years ago it made sense to have all the functions carried out by a single authority, but he added: “Times have moved on and we think there is a more logical way to parcel out those functions in a way that does not dilute in the slightest the efficacy or efficiency of the regulatory action.”

But Lord Harries said: “Given the special ethical status of the early foetus, would you not agree that is the integrated function of the HFEA whereby the licensing of the clinics, the licensing of research and the extensive database are held together which minimises the risk of unfortunate instances?

“If the HFEA is dismembered the likelihood of these unfortunate instances is likely to increase.”

Lord Howe said the Government would “look very carefully at the design of systems so as to ensure that both the expertise and scrutiny functions that we associate so well with the HFEA are not diluted or lost”.

It is going to be very interesting to see the ramifications of this belt-tightening decision. Much like Professor Julie Shapiro, I am not convinced federal regulation is necessarily the best method to address issues involving reproductive choices. Then again, when you look at the patchwork of inconsistent state laws addressing surrogacy in the United States, you can appreciate the dangers of having no national policy or oversight when dealing with ART.


2 comments for ““Bonfire Of The Quangos” Brings About The End Of The HFEA In The UK”

  • I’m on both sides of that fence w/you Andy. Will be watching what’s to come in the UK,thanks for this breaking news update.

    Warmest, Amy

  • Great detailed information, I just saved you on my google reader.

    Sent from my iPad 4G

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On LinkedinCheck Our Feed