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'Need for a father' provision should be dropped

Dr. Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

24 January 2004

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[BioNews, London] Suzi Leather, chair of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has stated in an interview with a national newspaper that the law requiring fertility clinics to consider a child's 'need for a father' before offering treatment is 'nonsense'. It would be better for clinics to assess women seeking treatment on medical and social grounds, she said, rather than considering whether they 'had a man in tow'.

Ms Leather claims that the requirement, contained in section 13 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990, is discriminatory towards single women and lesbians who want to have children using assisted conception techniques. She also claims that it does not take into account 'changes in society', including moves by the government towards the legal recognition of gay partnerships and the increased number of single parents in society.

In addition to the newspaper interview, when speaking at the HFEA's annual conference in London, Ms Leather said that she thought the welfare provisions of the Act should be brought into line with modern society. 'It is absolutely clear if you think about the changes in society and the different ways that families can be constituted that it is anachronistic for the law to include the statement about a child's need for a father', she said. She has also announced that the HFEA will launch a full review of the welfare provisions in the 1990 Act, with results being presented to ministers at the end of the year.

When addressing the conference, she also told delegates that Panos Zavos, who announced last week that he had implanted a cloned human embryo in a 35-year old woman, 'deserves nothing more than contempt'. 'His attempts, if true, are odious', she said, adding that she will urge governments and clinical bodies worldwide to 'vehemently oppose the unethical ambitions of Dr Zavos'.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 24 January 2004   Date Updated: 12 September 2004
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