Embryo freezing at unprecedented level

A record high of almost 100,000 embryos were stored in the UK in 2021, it has been reported.

According to The Times, on average 267 fertilised eggs are now being frozen every day and storage facilities are struggling to keep up with demand.

New data from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) shows a 30 per cent increase in embryo freezing between 2019 and 2021.

‘Human life’

Writing for The Times, health journalist Rosie Taylor said that “291,241 embryos were created in UK fertility clinics in 2021, up 64 per cent on 2001. But whereas 20 years ago about one in four were frozen, now the rate is higher than one in three.”

The journalist also reported that the UK’s largest private provider, Care Fertility, has had to requisition laboratory offices and store rooms “to create additional space for the 63,000 embryos in its care”.

Around 20% of women who needed fertility treatment, such as IVF, to conceive their first child are likely to get pregnant naturally in the future UCL study

Taylor attributes the situation, in part, to the reluctance of those who choose to freeze their fertilised eggs to allow them to be destroyed.

Until last year, frozen embryos could usually only be kept for ten years, but HFEA rules now permit them to be kept for 55 years – subject to renewed consent every decade.


One woman, who is keeping an embryo in storage following IVF treatment, explained: “I don’t know how I would ever be able to say, ‘Please destroy the embryo’. If we don’t go on to use the last one, I can guarantee I will be paying each year for the rest of my life to keep it there.”

Pondering the “looming embryo storage crisis” on social media, Taylor asked: “We’re storing embryos at record rates – what are we going to do with all these nascent lives in the freezer?”

An embryo is human life at its earliest stages of development Rosie Taylor

The Institute’s Ciarán Kelly said: “These are staggering figures. People seem to forget that each one of these nearly 300,000 embryos is a human life – made in the image of God.

“Nearly 100,000 were put on ice in 2021, their lives hanging in the balance. And many of the remainder will have been destroyed, created in laboratories only to be discarded as worthless. It is a double tragedy of the most epic proportions and it is happening year in, year out.”

When does human life begin?

When does human life begin?

Christian thinking and contemporary opposition

John R Ling

When does human life begin? It is a fundamental and decisive question because your answer reveals your understanding of the nature and status of the human embryo. It also shapes your stance on the big bioethical issues of the day such as abortion, cloning and embryonic stem cell research. There are many voices sowing confusion, but the Bible is unmistakably clear that human life begins at conception. In this booklet, John Ling provides a wide-ranging explanation of biblical truth, the historical Christian perspective and evidence from modern science to support this position.

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Synthetic ’embryos’ prompt major ethical concerns

Time limits on embryo experimentation abandoned