Lesbians plan IVF to create a 'shared' baby
Dr. Kirsty Horsey
Progress Educational Trust26 April 2005
A lesbian couple are planning to use IVF to create a 'shared baby', the UK press has reported. Hayley Marlow and Vicky Hill want to have one of Ms Hill's eggs fertilised, using donor sperm, but to then implant any resulting embryo into Ms Marlow's womb. Ms Marlow would then be the birth mother, while Ms Hill would be the genetic mother of any child born.
The couple, who live in Oxfordshire, say they have consulted their GP about having a baby this way, but have not yet been referred to a specialist. Ms Marlow said they had got the idea because 'a lot of lesbians have children using male friends as sperm donors', but said they wanted to go one step further. 'We want a baby that has truly come from both of us and the only way to do that is by me carrying Vicky's baby', she said.
The two women are hoping to have the IVF procedure paid for by the National Health Service (NHS), but appreciate it will still cost them a lot of money. However, they want to do it because it will 'complete their family' - Ms Marlow already has a five-year old daughter from a previous heterosexual relationship. They say that any child they have will call Ms Hill 'mummy' and call Ms Marlow by her first name, Hayley. The couple will need the approval of their local NHS trust in order to proceed with the treatment, and the Department of Health has warned that its guidelines might not cover NHS IVF treatment in this way.
Pink Parents, a charity that supports gay couples raising families, said that it expected that most fertility clinics would be reluctant to perform the IVF procedure in this way, because the success rate is lower when transferring eggs from one woman to another. A spokesperson for Pink Parents said 'although rare, we are now receiving more requests for information on this type of pregnancy'.
A spokesman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which regulates the provision of fertility treatment in the UK, said that there was no legal block on same-sex couples having fertility treatment. But, he continued, 'the couple would need to have a welfare of the child check to make sure they can provide a stable environment for the child'. He added 'If there were no father figure the clinician has to assess the kind of people who are going to be in the child's life who may be able to take that role'. A Department of Health spokesman said that it is 'extremely unlikely' that the couple will get their IVF on the NHS - explaining that couples must have tried for three years unsuccessfully to have a baby and have a 'defined cause of infertility' to be approved.
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.