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Following the Warnock Report of 1984 and the 1987 White Paper, the Government has introduced the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill containing provisions on research involving human embryos. Parliament is asked to decide between two options set out in Section 11 of the Bill which determine whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is empowered to grant licences for research involving human embryos less than 14 days old.

This question involves substantial ethical and religious considerations. An understanding of scientific aspects of human fertilisation and embryology may assist Parliamentarians to come to grips with these considerations. Some of the relevant science and technology is described in this note.

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