Image: ©Drew Hays

The 14-day rule in the Dutch Embryo Act

The Health Council of the Netherlands recommends that the 14-day rule for embryo research be extended to a 28-day rule.

The Dutch Embryo Act specifies conditions for scientific research with human embryos that are donated to science after IVF treatments. These conditions include a demonstrable need for the research and an impossibility to obtain the knowledge otherwise. The Act also specifies that it is prohibited to allow embryos to develop outside the human body for longer than 14 days after fertilisation.

During the last evaluation of the Embryo Act, it was questioned whether compelling reasons exist to extend the 14-day limit. The Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport of the Netherlands has asked the Health Council to address this question. Based on an elaborate weighing of the embryo’s worthiness of protection, the interests embryo research serves and the public perspective, the Council has come to the recommendation to extend the 14-day rule to a 28-day rule.