The Government has announced a two-year storage extension for eggs, sperm and embryos to give people extra time to access fertility services, whilst the UK tackles the coronavirus pandemic. Recently, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) ordered all ongoing fertility treatment in the UK to stop, interrupting fertility patients' treatment (See BioNews 1043).
Sarah Norcross, director of the Progress Educational Trust (PET) – the charity that publishes BioNews – said: 'PET welcomes the Government's two-year extension of the storage limit for eggs, sperm and embryos. This positive move will alleviate, in particular, the huge stress felt by women facing the ten-year storage limit for social egg freezing, and it also paves the way for the outdated, unscientific and discriminatory ten-year storage limit to be changed for all women seeking to preserve their fertility by freezing their eggs. PET now calls upon the Government to #ExtendTheLimit for social egg freezing and give women reproductive choice.'
PET's #ExtendTheLimit campaign and petition to extend the ten-year storage limit for social egg freezing has already resulted in the Government announcing an online public consultation on gamete and embryo storage limit; this consultation closes on 5 May 2020.
Baroness Ruth Deech, whose Storage Period for Gametes Bill is seeking to bring about legislative change, said; 'People who have stored embryos and gametes will be greatly relieved by this humane and sensible decision by the Department of Health and Social Care to grant a two-year extension. It will lighten some of the difficulties and anxieties that patients are bound to experience as their plans have had to be put on hold during lockdown.'
Sharon Jones, who froze her eggs two years ago, told BioNews: 'I am delighted and relieved to hear the news that the Government has extended the storage limit for eggs, sperm and embryos by two years. This is a personal relief as my own frozen eggs gain two years' life in the freezer in light of COVID-19 which alleviates some of the time pressures. The decision is promising and is a positive step towards the Government supporting change to remove the arbitrary laws on frozen fertility. The news also brings hope and support to patients in the UK while fertility treatment is paused at the moment. A positive day for the #ExtendTheLimit campaign.'