Conference: Make Do or Amend – Should We Update UK Fertility & Embryo Law?

28 October 2018

MAKE DO OR AMEND: SHOULD WE UPDATE UK FERTILITY AND EMBRYO LAW?‘ is a one-day conference taking place in London on Wednesday 5 December 2018 (9.30am5.30pm).  

The conference will explore law and regulation governing fertility treatment and embryo research. There will be Keynote Addresses by SIR JAMES MUNBY (former President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales) and SALLY CHESHIRE (Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority).

Other confirmed speakers and chairs include DR ROY FARQUHARSON (Chair of ESHRE), DR KATHY NIAKAN (Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute and the first researcher licensed by the UK regulator to edit the genomes of human embryos), BARONESS RUTH DEECH (Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords), DR ANDY GREENFIELD (Programme Leader at MRC Harwell), EMILY JACKSON (Professor of Law at the LSE), BARBARA CONNOLLY QC (Barrister), PROFESSOR CHRISTIAN DE GEYTER (Chair of ESHRE‘s European IVF Monitoring Steering Committee), PROFESSOR ELLIE LEE (Director of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies), NATALIE GAMBLE (Founder of Natalie Gamble Associates and Brilliant Beginnings), JAMES LAWFORD DAVIES (Partner at Hempsons), SATU RAUTAKALLIO-HOKKANEN (Chair of Fertility Europe), ERIKA TRANFIELD (Director of Pride Angel), DR ROGER HIGHFIELD (Director of External Affairs at the Science Museum Group), DR KYLIE BALDWIN (Senior Lecturer at De Montfort University), PROFESSOR ROBERT SPACZYNSKI (Vice President of the Polish Society of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians), FIONA FOX (Chair of Trustees at PET [Progress Educational Trust] and Chief Executive of the Science Media Centre), and SARAH NORCROSS (Director of PET).

The conference is supported by the Anne McLaren Memorial Trust Fund, the Edwards and Steptoe Research Trust Fund and ESHRE (silver sponsors), and by Ferring Pharmaceuticals, the European Sperm Bank, JMW Solicitors, the London Women’s Clinic and Vitrolife (bronze sponsors).

Further details of the conference, including the agenda and how to book your place, can be found at – if you have any queries, please email sstarr [at]

Job: Scientific Policy Manager at the HFEA

8 October 2018

Contract type: Permanent full time

Salary: £36,000

Closing date: 14/10/2018

The Scientific Policy Manager is the main (internal) source of scientific Policy advice and briefing. They work with internal and external stakeholders to ensure that the HFEA’s scientific policies focus on improving quality of treatment and research, communicating these effectively, via briefings, articles, and speech-writing.

The post-holder manages the Scientific Advances Advisory Committee (SCAAC) and leads the Policy team’s scientific and clinical horizon scanning policy function, programming an annual international horizon-scanning panel meeting. They represent the HFEA at conferences and external working groups, presenting as required. The post also supports the Policy team, replying to public enquiries and drafting answers to relevant Parliamentary Questions. The Scientific Policy Manager is supported in their role by their line report, the Scientific Policy Officer.

This is an exciting opportunity for someone with a degree or equivalent in a scientific or clinical subject, and knowledge or academic experience in a biological or clinical science. You’ll have experience or involvement in policy work (ideally in a regulatory context), initiating and managing projects and good analytical skills. You’ll be able to understand complicated legal, ethical and scientific issues around assisted reproductive technologies and engage confidently with professional groups. Ideally, you’ll have experience of producing evidence-based guidance and working closely with senior staff and committees.

This is a unique opportunity to play a key role in the Policy team. You will have the chance to make a real and tangible difference to our work and the lives of patients. For more information about the work we do, please visit the HFEA website.

Job: Policy officer at the HFEA

31 July 2017

Policy Officer
Fixed term contract (maternity cover)

Location: London

Salary: £25,000 plus benefits

Closing dates for applicants: 04/08/2017

We are looking for a fixed-term, full time Policy Officer to support a wide range of policy-related work. A key part of this will be to support Policy Managers in managing stakeholder groups and in carrying out reviews of HFEA policy, which can involve drafting committee papers, analysing consultation responses and giving policy advice. You will be working on various areas of policy, including on reducing multiple births, sperm and egg donation and fertility preservation. The successful candidate will also be responsible for dealing with patient, public and sector enquiries relating to all our policy areas.

This is an exciting opportunity for someone who can work effectively as part of a team, and who has good written and verbal communication skills – including an ability to handle sensitive patient enquiries. You should be able to demonstrate experience of project management and of working with a variety of stakeholders. You should also have the skills required to undertake literature searches, be confident at analysing information, and have the ability to summarise and identify key points from a wide range of evidence.

Given the varied nature of this role, good time management skills and the ability to prioritise tasks effectively, is key. You will be educated to degree level (or be educated or have experience to an equivalent level) with good IT skills.

This is a unique opportunity to play a key role in supporting the Policy team to help ensure that everyone in the UK affected by assisted reproduction receives high quality care. You will have the chance to make a real and tangible difference to our work and the lives of patients. For more information about the work we do, please visit our website.

Please visit NHS Jobs to apply for this position


10 March 2017

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 27 Sussex Place, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RG

29 March 2017 6pm (wine reception), 6.30pm-8.30pm (panel discussion)

This Progress Educational Trust event, which is sponsored by the British Fertility Society, will begin with a wine reception at 6pm followed by a panel discussion at 6.30pm. To reserve your free place, email sstarr [at]

The panel discussion will be chaired by FIONA FOX (Chair of Trustees at the Progress Educational Trust and Chief Executive of the Science Media Centre) with speakers PROFESSOR ADAM BALEN (Chair of the British Fertility Society), SALLY CHESHIRE (Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority), DR SIMON FISHEL (Founder and President of CARE Fertility) and DR RAJ MATHUR (Lead for Reproductive Medicine at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester).

Fertility treatment ‘add-ons’ are procedures and treatments offered alongside IVF – sometimes at considerable expense to the patient – which may not be supported by robust evidence. The benefits, harms and appropriateness of add-ons are often open to question, and the role of add-ons in fertility treatment has become a matter of heated debate among professionals and a source of confusion for patients.

Recently, add-ons have been discussed and debated in a controversial episode of the BBC1 programme Panorama entitled Inside Britain’s Fertility Business, in two studies published by in the British Medical Journal, in a study published by the journal Human Reproduction, and in work undertaken by the UK’s fertility regulator – the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

Our event will ask:

• What counts as an add-on?

• Who is best placed to judge the evidence for add-ons, and what is the ideal standard of evidence?

• How much evidence is it reasonable to expect, before a treatment is offered to patients?

• What is the role of the HFEA, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and professional bodies such as the British Fertility Society, in helping patients navigate add-ons?

• What is the duty of the medical professional, and what is the role of patient choice?

Much of the event’s running time will be devoted to letting YOU put questions and comments to the speakers.


26 July 2012

University College London’s Darwin Lecture Theatre from 6.30pm-8.30pm on Tuesday 11 September 2012

The debate is being organised by Progress Educational Trust in partnership with the Anne McLaren Memorial Fund. The debate concerns the uncertain future of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), and will address the question (currently the subject of a Government consultation) of whether or not the HFEA should be abolished and to whom its functions might be transferred.

The debate will be chaired by PETER BRAUDE (Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at King’s College London), and will feature speakers FRANK DOBSON (Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras), NATALIE GAMBLE (Solicitor at Natalie Gamble Associates, mother of donor-conceived children and egg donor), and ALISON MURDOCH (Head of the Fertility Centre at the Newcastle Centre for Life and Professor of Reproductive Medicine at Newcastle University).

To attend this FREE public debate, please RSVP to Sandy Starr: sstarr [at]

Conference: Pregnancy and Pregnancy Planning in the New Parenting Culture

23 March 2010

“A two-day seminar organised by Parenting Culture Studies and the Kent Centre for Law Gender and Sexuality and supported by the ESRC and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service

Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd June 2010
University of Kent, Canterbury

The intellectual backdrop for this event is a body of scholarship concerned with the content and effects of contemporary parenting culture.

This work shows how childrearing is mediated through a cultural narrative that provides mothers and, increasingly, fathers with rules – sometimes ambiguous – about how to realise their roles as parents. It shows how childrearing has intensified, expanding to encompass a range of activities that were not previously seen as an obligatory dimension of this task. It has also indicated how the expansion of the childrearing role has encouraged the belief that ‘parenting’ is a problematic sphere of social life, requiring much attention from policy makers.

The agenda for this seminar is grounded in the important observation that the imperatives of this parenting culture have begun to extend backwards: ideas about motherhood (and fatherhood) and the responsibilities entailed have begun to influence concerns about, and practices surrounding, the time before a child is born. Pregnancy and even prepregnancy have become sites for ‘parenttraining’.

Our discussion will, in this light, aim to further develop the study of parenting culture by making pregnancy and pregnancy planning the focus of analysis. Over two days, international scholars from a range of disciplines will discuss and evaluate with an academic, professional and lay audience the ways in which such extension of ‘parenting’ backwards is becoming apparent, for example in the official and unofficial advice given to mothers and, increasingly, fathers about the health risks they should consider when planning a pregnancy and after conception; in the ways regulations about reproductive medicine reflect not only medical innovation but also new ideas about parenting and parenthood; in innovations in reproductive health policy and in the decisions made by women about childbearing and abortion.

Organiser: Jan Macvarish, Research Associate, Centre for Health Service Studies, University of Kent

To book a place: email Sarah Slowe

Day 1. Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Welcome and introduction to the event
Ellie Lee, coordinator
Parenting Culture Studies
Session 1: Extending parenting backwards? Pregnancy and prepregnancy in contemporary context
Chair: Jan Macvarish, Research Associate, CHSS, University of Kent
Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong, Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University, ‘Do happier pregnancies make healthier babies? Stress and the medicalization of maternal emotion’
Cynthia Daniels, Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University, ‘Policing pregnancy: The politics of fetal risks’
Discussants: Frank Furedi, Professor of Sociology University of Kent and Janet Golden, Professor of History, Rutgers University
Session 2: Fatherhood and parenting culture
Chair: Sally Sheldon, Professor of Law, University of Kent
Tina Miller, Reader in Sociology, Oxford Brookes University, ‘Men and ‘bonding’: fathers’ expectations in the antenatal period’
Jonathan Ives, Lecturer in Behavioural Science and Heather Draper, Reader in Biomedical Ethics, Centre for Biomedical Ethics, The University of Birmingham, ‘Should we strive to involve men in a meaningful way during pregnancy? Rethinking men’s involvement in antenatal care’
Session 3: What’s wrong with advocating alcohol abstinence to pregnant women? Perspectives from the US and Britain
Chair: Andy Alaszewski, editor Health, Risk and Society
Janet Golden, Professor of History, Rutgers University
Pam Lowe, Lecturer in Sociology, Aston University.
Discussants: Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong, Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University and Pat O’Brien, Consultant & Honorary Senior Lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology University College Hospital London and spokesperson, RCOG
6.30 Drinks, followed by dinner.

Day 2: Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Session 4: Motherhood, abortion and parenting culture
Chair: Ann Furedi, CEO bpas
Rachel Jones, Senior Research Associate, Guttmacher Institute, New York, ‘Abortion decision making in a culture of ‘intensive motherhood’’
Danielle Bessett, Ph.D., Charlotte Ellertson Social Science Postdoctoral Fellow, Ibis Reproductive Health, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., ‘Pregnancy after Abortion: women’s experiences of a stigmatized reproductive career’
Evelyn Mahon, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin, ‘Is there ever a good time to have a child?’
Session 5: Abortion and the politics of motherhood
Chair: Ann Furedi, CEO bpas
Professor Kristin Luker, Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt Professor of Law and Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, ‘Abortion and the politics of motherhood revisited’
Discussant: Ruth Fletcher, Senior Lecturer in Law, Keele University


Session 6: Reproductive technology in an age of intensive
Chair: Emily Jackson, Professor of Law, LSE
Martin Richards, Emeritus Professor of Family Research, Cambridge University, ‘Present practice and future developments in the culture of choice’
Julie McCandless, lecturer in law, Oxford Brookes University, ‘What is ‘supportive parenting’? The new ‘Welfare of the Child’ clause in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (2008)’
Discussants: TBC
4.30 End”

TV: Saviour Siblings

14 February 2010

Having a Baby to Save My Child
BBC1, Tuesday 16th February, 10.35pm-11.15pm, available after broadcast via the iPlayer.

“Having A Baby To Save My Child follows two couples over two years as they take a controversial route to find cures for their critically-ill children.

Alison and Thomas, from Sheffield, and David and Samantha, from York, both have a child who needs a bone marrow donor to cure their life-threatening disease, but have found no match through the usual route of the international register.

Now, with advances in IVF techniques, it is possible to have a new baby unaffected by the disease and who will be a perfect tissue match, and therefore a donor, for their ill sibling.

For Alison and Thomas, time is running out for four-year-old David, who has Fanconi Anaemia – a degenerative disease of the bone marrow. As practising Catholics, the idea of using IVF techniques to “create” a child to cure another has created a moral dilemma.

Alison says: “We’re trying to choose a baby that’s not only a baby for us but a baby that will help David. I guess ethically there are a lot of strong opinions about whether we should or shouldn’t be having a go at doing this.”

David’s and Samantha’s 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, was diagnosed with the same disease in 2007. By the time she was 11, she urgently needed a bone marrow transplant but, with no matched donor available, they were forced to use her dad’s marrow – which was only a 50% match. A few weeks after the transplant, Jessica died.

Now the couple face losing their two-year-old son, Alex, who also suffers from the disease. The film follows them as they fight for NHS funding to pay for the treatment.

David says: “We’re not talking about ‘I want a baby with blonde hair and blue eyes’, that’s not what we are talking about. We’re talking about a child that is healthy.””