Responding to the introduction of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill in the House of Lords, Chairman of the BMA's Medical Ethics Committee (MEC), Dr Tony Calland, said doctors were keen to work with the government to develop the proposed legislation. He commented:
"The BMA is delighted that the HFE Bill reconfirms the government's decision not to merge the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority to form a single body, Regulatory Authority for Tissue and Embryos. We can now look forward to working with the government to see how improvements can be made to the existing regulatory structure.
"We are also very pleased that, unlike in the draft bill, the government is now proposing that the creation of human/animal embryos can go ahead for research purposes, with strict controls. This research is essential to the investigation of many serious and debilitating diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
"The BMA will be using the opportunity of this bill to push for amendments to the 1967 Abortion Act. We would like it to be amended so that, in the first trimester (up to 13 weeks), abortion would be available on the same basis of informed consent as other medical treatment. We also want the legal requirement for two doctors' signatures to confirm that the abortion meets the legal criteria to be removed in the first trimester."