Over 50 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling for single women and lesbians to have access to fertility treatment without the need of a father being present.
The cross section of politicians from Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats oppose laws which require “the need for a father” to be considered as a basis for IVF.
The motion echoes a conclusion by the House of Common’s Science and Technology Committee when it called the situation “offensive” to unconventional families and recommended a new statement of “the need for a family.”
Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon Evan Harris, a committee member branded it “indirect discrimination.”
“They are bringing in anti-discrimination legislation in the provision of goods and services. This clearly breaches that,” he said.
Labour MP for Wallasey Angela Eagle, Parliament’s first openly lesbian politician, told the Independent on Sunday, “It’s clear that in coming to any kind of decision about IVF, clinics have to look at many issues, but I don’t think it is at all clear that should be based on the assumption of whether there is a man around. Plenty of children are brought up by women on their own.”
However, Conservative MP for Congleton Ann Winterton suggested the proposal may create fatherless families headed by single or lesbian women, “Technology may move fast but that does not mean surely that our ethical concerns or the actual philosophical under-pinning of society and the law have altered radically
“We all know of examples of children who have been brought up by single parents, either male or female, who have done a splendid job.
“But to artificially create a new situation is I believe quite wrong.”
Health Minister Caroline Flint said the government was considering the issue through a “consultative” and “deliberative” approach.
Last March the NHS said it would provide single women and lesbians with get free fertility treatment.