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The Warnock Report on Human Fertilisation and Embryology (1984)

Cave, Emma



Sara Fovargue

Craig Purshouse


When the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology was published in the UK in 1984, human fertilisation and embryology was developing at pace. The same has been true since and remains the case today. And yet the Committee, chaired by Dame (subsequently Baroness) Mary Warnock, in their Report not only provided a pioneering regulatory model of relevance to other countries and other ethically charged scientific developments, but the Report itself has also stood the test of time. The Committee recommended legislation to regulate human fertilisation and embryology treatments and research, and this legislation has, in amended form, remained in place, until 2022 at least. It also recommended that a licensing body be created, with executive and advisory powers. The resulting Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has survived proposed abolitions and mergers and celebrated its 30th birthday in 2021. This chapter charts the significance of the Report and its procedural legacy.


Cave, E. (2023). The Warnock Report on Human Fertilisation and Embryology (1984). In S. Fovargue, & C. Purshouse (Eds.), Leading Works in Health Law and Ethics. London: Routledge.

Acceptance Date Aug 8, 2022
Online Publication Date Jul 20, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Jun 28, 2022
Publisher Routledge
Series Title Leading Works
Edition 1st
Book Title Leading Works in Health Law and Ethics
Chapter Number 6
ISBN 9780367704858
Public URL

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