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Consent agreements for cryopreserved embryos: the case for choice
  1. Peter D Sozou1,2,
  2. Sally Sheldon3,
  3. Geraldine M Hartshorne4
  1. 1Clinical Sciences Research Institute, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  2. 2Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK
  3. 3Kent Law School, University of Kent, Kent, UK
  4. 4Clinical Sciences Research Institute, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Peter D Sozou, Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK; p.sozou{at}lse.ac.uk

Abstract

Under current UK law, an embryo cannot be transferred to a woman's uterus without the consent of both of its genetic parents, that is both of the people from whose gametes the embryo was created. This consent can be withdrawn at any time before the embryo transfer procedure. Withdrawal of consent by one genetic parent can result in the other genetic parent losing the opportunity to have their own genetic children. We argue that offering couples only one type of consent agreement, as happens at present, is too restrictive. An alternative form of agreement, in which one genetic parent agrees to forego the right to future withdrawal of consent, should be available alongside the current form of agreement. Giving couples such a choice will better enable them to store embryos under a consent agreement that is appropriate for their circumstances. Allowing such a choice, with robust procedures in place to ensure the validity of consent, is the best way to respect patient autonomy.

  • Autonomy
  • cryobanking of sperm
  • cryopreservation of sperm
  • Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act
  • in-vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer
  • legal aspects: bills, laws and cases
  • oocytes or embryos
  • ova or embryos

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Footnotes

  • The three authors contributed equally to this paper.

  • Funding PDS was supported by a Wellcome Trust VIP Fellowship.

  • Competing interests GMH is an external adviser to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and is scientific director of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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