Lesbian couple win right to have IVF on the NHS

Jessica Geen July 21, 2009
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A lesbian couple have been permitted to have their IVF treatment paid by the NHS.

The anonymous couple, one of whom has polycystic ovary syndrome, which can lead to infertility, launched a legal fight after being denied treatment by their local primary care trust because they were both women.

Currently, trusts can decided whether to fund treatment of same-sex couples, although this will change in October when the “need for a father” will no longer be taken into consideration.

Instead, same-sex couples must show they can offer “supportive parenting”.

Ruth Hunt, head of policy at Stonewall, told The Times: “The changes in the law should mean that no infertile lesbian is refused NHS fertility treatment on the grounds of her sexual orientation.

“We have just published a guide on how to get pregnant for lesbians in response to lots of queries. This is a hot topic for us at the moment.”

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, which came into force in May, means that lesbian couples who are not in a civil partnership can share equal responsibility for a child born as a result of IVF, rather than the birth-mother only.

The right is automatic for those in civil partnerships.

However, couples must register their agreement to become joint parents in writing in a prescribed form to ensure they have legal protection if they separate.

The law is set to be expanded in April 2010, when male couples will also be able to apply for a Parental Order to be recognised as the parents of children born through surrogacy.

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