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Ignore ticking of the biological clock

(From BioNews 171:19/8/02 Published by ProgressEducational Trust, http://www.progress.org.uk)

Suzi Leather, the new chair of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has urged women not to have children purely because they fear the ticking of their biological clocks. In an interview with the Observer newspaper in which she said there was 'more to life' than having children, Ms Leather stated: 'I think the most important factor in deciding to have a baby is the relationship, the social and emotional context in which a child is going to come into the world. Just because you feel a biological clock ticking, if other things aren't right I don't think it's a sensible thing to do'.

Ms Leather also commented on the expected increases in the cost of IVF treatments. The HFEA said last month that it needs to increase its budget by more than £2 million. One way it can do this is by increasing clinic licence fees, which in turn might mean patients having to pay more for treatment. But Ms Leather justified this by saying that the HFEA cannot 'operate properly on a shoestring'.

New measures, such as formal double-checking procedures and inspection teams with greater levels of expertise, are likely to be introduced in order to lessen the risks of clinical mistakes. Comparing fertility treatment provision to the food industry - something Ms Leather knows about as she is currently also the Deputy Chair of the Food Standards Agency - she said 'If you look at the kind of traceability that the food industry is subject to, I think there are lessons for some of the health service. It couldn't be more important'.

- The Observer 18/8/2002 'Life's more than just babies, says IVF chief'

- The Observer: