Gay male couple to be offered IVF treatment by the NHS for first time in Britain
- Scottish couple to use sperm from one of them and surrogate mother to bear kid
- NHS had denied treatment for gay couples due to ban on using surrogate mums
- Scottish Government changed policy two years ago so any couple, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, is eligible for free fertility treatment
Two gay men have been offered IVF treatment by the NHS in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in Britain.
The married couple hope to conceive their own baby using sperm from one of them and a surrogate mother who will bear the child.
The NHS will fund the process of a donor egg being fertilised and the resultant embryo implanted into the surrogate mother.
A gay Scottish couple have been offered IVF treatment on the NHS in what is believed to be the first of its kind in Britain (file image)
The NHS has until recently refused to give gay male couples such treatment because of a blanket ban on using surrogate mothers.
The Scottish Government changed that policy two years ago so any couple, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, is eligible for free fertility treatment.
That decision marked the biggest shift since 2013, when NHS guidance across Scotland, England and Wales made IVF available to same-sex couples and single women with fertility problems.
But because of the ban on surrogates, in practice same-sex couples meant only women. They had to demonstrate their infertility by showing they had failed to get pregnant after several attempts with artificial insemination.
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The Scottish couple – who The Mail on Sunday has decided not to identify – revealed they were set to undergo NHS treatment when they posted an appeal online for an egg donor.
One of the men wrote: ‘Our NHS clinic don’t have any anonymous egg donors, they advised us we would need to find a known egg donor. Any suggestions how to go about it?’
A friend replied: ‘Wow, did not know Scotland were offering this on the NHS!’
The man replied: ‘Yes, it’s a new service they offer in Scotland… we only found out [about it] when the GP referred us.’
The NHS has until recently refused to give gay male couples IVF treatment because of a blanket ban on the use of surrogate mothers
Gay rights group Stonewall said: ‘We welcome any move that ensures lesbian, gay, bi and trans people have fair and equal access to fertility treatment.’
A Scottish Government spokesman confirmed fertility treatment was offered to men in same-sex relationships who had fertility problems, including same-sex male couples using a surrogate. But he emphasised the NHS would not find the surrogate.
While a single IVF policy applies to the whole of Scotland, the situation is more complicated in England, where each of around 200 clinical commissioning groups sets eligibility rules.
It is thought there have been no cases of IVF treatment for a gay male couple being funded by the NHS in England.
In Wales, fertility treatment for gay couples is in theory available on the NHS, although its policy states that ‘surrogacy IVF will only be provided where no other fertility treatment options are available’ and strictly for ‘medical reasons’.
Josephine Quintavalle, founder of pro-life group Comment On Reproductive Ethics, said: ‘It’s a total distortion of what constitutes a genuine fertility problem… It does seem extraordinary the extremes that people will go to distort nature, to create a child.’
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