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Clarification: Twins case reignites 'need for a father' debate

23 January 2008
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 442

Last week, BioNews reported on issues connected to the 'need for a father' debate on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill currently being debated in the House of Lords. Our article included the following: 'the Government is going even further with proposals to consider reintroducing plans to allow lesbian couples receiving IVF the option of creating a child with no biological father. Under this procedure, a foetus would be created from cells other than sperm or eggs. It would also give many women who have left it too late to have children to have their own biological child.'

It has been pointed out to us that this paragraph is potentially misleading, as it misrepresents the debate that actually took place in the House of Lords. We in fact relayed the information as it was presented in the Telegraph newspaper and had not checked the accuracy of these comments. The actual amendment introduced into the Lords (which was then withdrawn on a promise that the Government would look at the wording and then later possibly introduce it into the Commons) was framed in terms of allowing stem cells derived from a man to create sperm (for his own use) or a woman to create eggs (for her own use). Therefore, it was aimed primarily at treating infertility (e.g. post mumps/cancer) as Lord Patel clarifies at columns 1197 and 1202 of the 15 January debate, rather than women who have simply left pregnancy too late (though Lord Winston did mention that possibility during the debate - at column 1200) or same sex couples (although this was mentioned by Baroness Royall, at column 1201). We apologise for any misunderstanding this may have caused.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Government may revive fatherless baby Bill
The Daily Telegraph |  16 January 2008
House of Lords debates on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill 2007
Hansard |  15 January 2008
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
29 January 2008 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
Those offering IVF and associated techniques in the UK are currently required, by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, to consider the welfare of the child who might be born as a result - including the child's 'need for a father'. However, the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill currently...
20 January 2008 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The widely reported story of the twins separated at birth who, with their true biological origins unknown to them, later married, has led to a timely rekindling of the 'need for a father' debate in the UK. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill 2007 is currently...
20 January 2008 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The widely reported story of the twins separated at birth who, with their true biological origins unknown to them, later married, has led to a timely rekindling of the 'need for a father' debate in the UK. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill 2007 is currently...
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