MPs approve equal access to fertility treatment

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New legislation that will provide equal access to fertility treatment for lesbians has been approved by the House of Commons.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill will now return to the Lords for a final reading before it becomes law. Peers will not be able to amend it.

Yesterday MPs voted 355 to 129 for the bill.

It will make it easier for lesbians and single women to access NHS fertilisation services and allows a lesbian or gay couple to be named on the birth certificate as the legal parents of their children.

At present the law requires that NHS fertility clinics take account of the “need for a father” when assessing women for treatment.

In practice this can lead to clinics deciding not to accept lesbians. Those women instead have to use “DIY” methods in order to conceive.

Doctors will now consider whether the child will receive “supportive parenting.”

“We’ve always thought it scandalous that lesbian couples could lawfully be excluded from the safety of NHS clinics, for which we all pay,” said Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay equality organisation Stonewall.

“Often they’ve been forced to use unregulated backstreet services instead.

“We’re hugely grateful to everyone who has supported us over this issue.

“We’ve always remained calmly determined to present the credible scientific evidence that children in lesbian and gay families develop in exactly the same social and intellectual way as any others.

“But this latest step forward for our communities is an important reminder that lesbian and gay families are every bit as loving and tender, and magical, as any other. It will bring a lot of happiness to countless thousands of couples.”