Monday, May 19, 2008

Update on the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Bill

So far today :

Legislation to widen the scope of medical research has cleared its first hurdle as a bid to ban hybrid human animal embryos was defeated by MPs.

Tory MP Edward Leigh's attempt to outlaw the creation of hybrid embryos was voted down by 336 votes to 176.

He argued the technique was "a step too far". Catholic cabinet ministers Ruth Kelly, Des Browne and Paul Murphy voted for a ban. PM Gordon Brown opposed it.

MPs are set to vote on whether to allow "saviour siblings" at about 2230 BST.

Tomorrow its the vote on the anti abortion amendments.

Another part of the Bill that hasn't received so much attention is the one to remove the requirement of clinics to take into account the need for a father.

Pink News explains

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 and those women instead using "DIY" methods in order to conceive.

"Lesbians tend to be refused service or made to pay for it under the current arrangements," explained Ruth Hunt, head of policy at gay equality organisation Stonewall.

"Some clinics have a blanket ban on same-sex couples and ultimately it is down to the clinicians.

"That leads many lesbians to have to use informal methods, which can lead to legal difficulties.

"Lesbians should have a choice."

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill contains new rules that will allow gay and lesbian couples to become the legal parents of a child conceived through donated sperm.

The provisions also mean that lesbians will have equal access to fertility services, which could mean IVF but is much more likely to mean assisted conception.

The new rules would mean that civil partners will automatically become the legal parents of the child, even if the child is conceived 'informally' ie: not through a clinic.

The two people named on the birth certificate would also be legally responsible for the child.

On dissolution of a civil partnership the current law allows the courts to consider maintenance payments for the child.

DIY sperm donation will still be legal but under the proposed laws the non-birth mother not in a civil partnership could not be on the birth certificate.

The advantages of using a fertility clinic mean that the donor is registered, and cannot be legally held responsible for the child's welfare or upkeep.

His name does not appear on the birth certificate.

Details of the donor, such as his last known address, name and medical information are kept and can be shown to the child when he or she reaches 18, or before if the legal parents consent.

For men who may be asked by a lesbian friend to donate sperm, there is the legal reassurance that they can donate informally if they want, become a registered donor, and know that they will not be legally responsible for the child's maintenance.

This seems to give both children and parents a stronger legal footing and surely must be better for them ,unless of course you see all this as 'pretend' families. A heterosexual marriage certificate does not guarantee a happy or stable childhood. Lesbians, or gay men, can make great parents or crap ones, just like heterosexuals.

The New Tories of course are not really that 'progressive,' and are none to keen at this proposal .Seems they are being encouraged to vote against it.

Brown, not really great on judgement at the moment, is willing to dump the rights of lesbians to avoid further defeats :

The Prime Minister has accepted that he will have to sacrifice a measure on parenthood in order to save legislation to allow new embryo research and treatments.

Labour MPs determined to oppose the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill are being quietly urged to direct their anger at proposals to scrap the requirement that IVF clinics consider the child’s “need for a father”, The Times has learnt. Equality campaigners say that the requirement breaches the human rights of lesbians seeking fertility treatment. But ministers believe that the measure is marginal compared with tonight’s key votes on allowing the creation of human-animal hybrid embyros and so-called saviour siblings.

Yep, LGBT rights are 'marginal,' I'd never have guessed. And when did equality become a matter of conscience ? Would it be acceptable, as a Labour MP, to vote for inequality based on race or gender ?

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