The controversial issue of frozen human embryos in the UK (see HERE), which are overflowing the storage capacity of fertility clinics (see HERE), poses a new challenge to the government’s plans, which it intends to expand from 10 to 55 years is the maximum term to keep cryopreserved embryos and sperm. Under the new system, they would be given the option to keep or dispose of the frozen cells or embryos at 10-year intervals. The initiative has yet to be approved by the British Parliament.
An article, published in the British newspaper BBC News on September 7, 2021, ensures that the project has been approved by the Department for Health. The President of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, Dr. Raj Mathur, has welcomed this news, stating that “extending the time limit increases the ability of all our patients to make reproductive decisions.”
Our assessment of frozen embryos for 55 years
From a bioethical perspective, this decision is, in our opinion, contrary to the dignity of the human embryo, which is thus subjected to unworthy conditions.
Regarding the postponement of the deadlines for frozen sperm, it may be related to the reduction in the number of donors due to the removal of their right to anonymity.
As we have stated on previous occasions from the Bioethics Observatory, the production of surplus embryos in assisted reproduction techniques, their elimination or cryopreservation represents a serious attack against the human dignity of the weakest.
Finally, it would be necessary to assess whether this measure would open the door for other countries to extend their deadlines to keep the embryos frozen. In almost all of them, this period does not exceed 10 years.