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Remembering Mary Warnock

The fertility law community said a fond farewell to the philosopher, educationalist and public intellectual, Lady Warnock, who died at the age of 94 last week.

Enjoying a rich and varied career spanning teaching, academia, writing, school leadership and educational reform, Lady Warnock will long be remembered for her major contribution to the field of bioethics and fertility law. In the early 1980s she chaired the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology. With the birth of the first baby conceived following IVF in 1978 came an urgent need to provide a regulatory framework for assisted reproduction. The work of the committee led to the passing of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, which remains the foundation for the current law. The committee reached consensus on many difficult issues including allowing research on embryos but only up to day 14.

Warnock was praised for her ability to navigate a course through the competing claims of scientific innovation, personal freedom and moral imperatives, arising from both religious and non-religious viewpoints. She will be much missed.

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