Dr Mark Hamilton, Chair of the British Fertility Society said:

“The BFS welcomes the outcome of today’s vote in the House of Commons which will remove from UK law the need for fertility clinics to consider the ‘need for a father’ as part of the Welfare of the Child assessment undertaken prior to proceeding with licensed treatment in UK clinics.

In 2005 in its response to the Department of Health’s public consultation on their review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (http://www.fertility.org.uk/practicepolicy/documents/05_11_BFS%20Response%20-%20DH%20consultation.pdf), the BFS argued that the ‘need for a father’ was potentially discriminatory and should be replaced by the ‘need for high quality parenting’.  This was echoed in the BFS response to the Government’s white paper (http://www.fertility.org.uk/news/pressrelease/07_05-WhitepaperResponse.html) where we supported the wording in the draft Bill.

In August 2006, the BFS published recommendations for national criteria for NHS funding of assisted conception (Kennedy et al., 2006 Human Fertility, volume 9 pages 181 – 189) and stated that ‘single women and same sex couples should be eligible for six cycles of NHS funded Donor Insemination’ and if this failed or in the presence of an indication for IVF with donor sperm, this should be allocated on the same basis as for heterosexual couples.

The BFS Is pleased to note that this change of law supports clinics in offering equal access to single women and same sex couples to licensed treatment. The Society would wish to emphasise that, as has always been the case, consideration of the welfare of potential children Is central to the provision of care and is unaffected by today’s decision in Westminster.

For more information: please contact the British Fertility Society press office