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Press statement regarding legal parenthood cases

These hearings have no doubt been very stressful for the families involved and today’s judgment is clearly welcome news for them. They rightly assumed that legal parenthood was beyond doubt; finding out that it was not must have been very upsetting.

Press statement regarding legal parenthood cases

The law was changed in 2009 to allow unmarried partners of women having treatment with donor sperm to become the legal parent at birth. Whilst this only affects a small group of patients, that is no excuse for getting it wrong. As the regulator, we have worked hard to make sure that clinics understand this complex aspect of the law, but we should have done more to make sure clinics were getting it right.

After the first case of this kind came to light, we asked clinics to review all relevant patient records. We are working with the clinics involved to make sure affected patients are contacted and offered the support and advice that they need. We have also changed our approach on inspection to make sure that consent processes in clinics are tightened up and that staff are properly trained.

We will review the action we have already taken, alongside the Judge’s recommendations, to minimise the risk of this happening again. All fertility patients have a right to expect that matters as important as consent to parenthood are handled professionally by their clinic.

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Publication date: 13 April 2017

Review date: 13 April 2019