NHS surrogates may be used by gay couples

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A Primary Care Trust in England is considering an application for funds to pay for a surrogate mother to have a baby for an infertile couple.

While it is illegal to pay both surrogate mothers and egg donors in Britain, North East Essex PCT is considering paying up to £15,000 in ‘expenses’ to carry a baby to full-term, which is allowed under the law.

However, the option is at present only under consideration by one of the 152 PCTs in England.

A report to the NE Essex PCT pointed out that if they go ahead with the scheme, “consideration would need to be taken for any homosexual couple or single person who wished to become a parent through surrogacy.”

New legislation currently before Parliament will allow a woman who gives birth and her civil partner to both be recognised as the parents of a child conceived through assisted reproduction.

Two men will be able to apply for a parental order to become parents of a child conceived through a surrogacy arrangement.

It is thought around 50 children are born through such an arrangement every year in the UK already.

At present the non-genetic same-sex parent has to apply to adopt the child.

In the past few years a small number of gay men in the UK have turned to the Fertility Institute, a clinic in Los Angeles to get round UK restrictions on surrogacy.

The Institute started running a programme where male couples pay for eggs from a university student to be implanted in another woman, often from a working-class background, who carries the child.

The sperm comes from one of the gay men. The Fertility Institute also enables couples to choose the sex of the child, which is illegal in the UK and nearly every other Western nation.

Dr Jeffrey Steinberg, director of the Institute, said:

“In the past two years we have probably treated 20 British gay couples and in the past four days, since launching the dedicated programme for gay couples, we have had about 25 e-mails from gay British couples. There is a pent-up demand for this.”