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 The actual amendment introduced into the Lords (which was then withdrawn on a promise that the Government would look at the wording and then later possibly introduce it into the Commons) was framed in terms of allowing stem cells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.