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U.K. Embryo Research Law Is Now in Embryo

LONDON—Britan’s in vitro fertilization teams are preparing for a major battle to defend their research against hostile lawmakers. The U.K. government last month published the framework for comprehensive legislation to regulate IVF treatment and embryo research. But in a neat sidestep, ministers gave members of Parliament the option of either authorizing experiments under strict limitations or in effect banning research entirely. Debate on the legislative proposal is expected to

Andrew Veitch

LONDON—Britan’s in vitro fertilization teams are preparing for a major battle to defend their research against hostile lawmakers.

The U.K. government last month published the framework for comprehensive legislation to regulate IVF treatment and embryo research. But in a neat sidestep, ministers gave members of Parliament the option of either authorizing experiments under strict limitations or in effect banning research entirely.

Debate on the legislative proposal is expected to last several months, with the final bill being introduced next fall. Previous votes in Parliament on bills to ban research suggest that four in five M.P.s agree that the embryo must be accorded all the rights of a human being.

The government’s key proposal is for a statutory licensing authority (SLA) to govern all research and treatment. This is in line with recommendations from the government-appointed committee of inquiry into the new reproductive technology chaired by Dame Mary Warnock. IVF pioneers...

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