Changing the law is a central part of what the Progress Educational Trust (PET) does. PET was born out of a campaign – the Progress Campaign for Research into Human Reproduction – and more than 30 years later, remains actively involved in several campaigns. It is in our DNA to campaign on your behalf.
I remember when I started at PET over a decade ago, I went to a meeting on my first day to discuss the reform of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act 1990. There in the Houses of Parliament with the Department of Health (as it was called then), the Wellcome Trust, the Royal Society and the Medical Research Council sat PET firmly in the centre of things.
PET has remained in the centre of things ever since:
• Campaigning for the law change to permit mitochondrial donation to give women the chance of avoiding passing on mitochondrial disease to their children
• Working with others to get surrogacy law reform on the Government's agenda
• Fighting for better access to NHS funded fertility treatment
The list goes on.
With our 2018 conference 'Make Do or Amend: Should We Update UK Fertility and Embryo Law?', a specific aim was to put reviewing the 1990 and 2008 HFE Acts on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)'s agenda.
This objective was met, and PET and other organisations (including Wellcome) were contacted by DHSC to discuss what the priorities for change should be. These talks are on-going and if there is one thing I have learned when it comes to law reform, it is that persistence pays.
Our latest campaign, #ExtendTheLimit has had a huge impact. A year ago, the then Minister was not interested in even contemplating a change but undeterred we continued to push and launched our campaign in October 2019. Since then the DHSC has launched a consultation and just this week the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists published a scientific impact paper entitled 'Elective Egg Freezing for Non-Medical Reasons' and together with the British Fertility Society have backed PET's calls for extending the time women can freeze their eggs to delay having a baby (see BioNews 1037).
PET's petition enabling you to show your support for #ExtendTheLimit will be relaunched just as soon as the Government's petitions committee is up and running. Patience is also an important part of campaigning as we can't always dictate the pace!
Our policy work is funded by donations and the Friends of PET scheme and we need your financial support if we are going to continue to fight to improve reproductive choice.
We need your help.