Lesbians who have children through IVF will be able to name their partners on birth certificates from next month.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, which comes into force on April 6th, will allow lesbian couples undertaking fertility treatment to have both their names automatically added to birth certificates, with single women being allowed to nominate their child’s other parent.
The Act also means that any person can be named as the second parent, unless they refuse to give their consent or are a close blood relative.
The named second parent has legal obligations, including potentially being pursued for financial contributions to the child’s upbringing.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised lesbian women to consider postponing treatment to take advantage of the new law.
A spokeswoman said:
“If a lesbian couple, for example, were thinking about having IVF treatment they might be better off waiting until April because the rules about who they can name as a second parent will make things easier.”
Critics have complained that the move will “falsify” birth certificates.
Baroness Ruth Deech, a former chair of the HFEA, said:
“What I object to is the falsification of the birth certificate. It is supposed to be a true record of the genetic origins of birth.
“This is putting the rights and wishes of the parents way above those of the child.
“It is absurd that anyone can be named as the father or the second parent.”
However, Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris has defended the changes, saying that the rule is unlikely to be abused.
He commented: “This is a big step and is unlikely to be taken by someone who does not take their responsibilities seriously.”