Time limit on storing human eggs 'should be scrapped'

12 September 2016

A new legal research paper has called for the ten-year statutory time limit on the storage of human eggs to be scrapped.

Carried out by the London School of Economics and Political Science and published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, the paper examined the implications of the recent development of the fast-freezing technique called vitrification, which enables fertility clinics to offer the option of 'social' egg freezing to women concerned about declining fertility.

Currently, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act only allows eggs to be stored for more than ten years if a woman is facing premature infertility, meaning most 30-year-olds freezing their eggs would not be eligible for an extension at the age of 40 and would therefore be unable to use their frozen eggs at 41 or 42 - the exact age when they would be most likely to want to do so.

Limits were originally introduced because the risks of long-term storage, but are now only retained so clinics are not obliged to store eggs indefinitely. However, the research believes this could be achieved by allowing for rolling time-limited extensions, as already happens for women who are prematurely infertile.

Professor Emily Jackson of London School of Economics and Political Science's department of law said: "It is now clear that time limits on storage are not required on safety grounds."

Posted by Edward Bartel


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