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Regulation of Infertility Clinics Needed

The need for regulation of infertility clinics has been highlighted again by the preliminary judgement yesterday in the 'embryo' case according to Senator Mary Henry.//

Eight years ago Senator Henry, a medical doctor, had put forward a private members bill to regulate such clinics. Recently, Health Minister Mary Harney asked her Department to prepare legislation for the regulation of assisted human reproduction in Ireland.

According to the preliminary judgement the husband in the embryo case had not given his consent for three frozen embryos to be implanted in the uterus of his wife following which there had been no agreement on what was to be done subsequently with the frozen embryos.

The wife now estranged from her husband had a child resulting from the initial transplantation of embryos following IVF treatment at a Dublin clinic.

According to the preliminary judgement it was 'curious' that no document had been furnished to the couple stating what was to happen to the frozen embryos in the future, if the wife became pregnant from the IVF treatment or if the couple separated or were divorced.

Following the judgement ruling in favour of the husband, constitutional issues will now be examined by the High Court to find out whether the frozen embryos can be considered 'unborn' under the constitution as amended in 1983.

According to Senator Henry the case only highlighted the overall need for regulation of fertility clinics in Ireland in terms of practices and procedures, including procedures surrounding consent forms.

Last year the Commission on Assisted Reproduction called for such regulation to be introduced.

Senator Henry pointed out that 1,000 children are born in Ireland each year as a result of assisted human reproduction and regulation was badly needed.

She added that the Supreme Court had recommended e that legislation be introduced on this issue even in the 1990s. But as Senator Henry said, "This, of course, never happened but people like the couple in the court case must now suffer in order for this issue to be clarified."


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