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Same sex couples to have equal recognition on birth certificates

14 April 2009
Appeared in BioNews 503

New legislation has come into force in the UK which will help to create a 'level playing field' for same-sex couples undergoing IVF treatment. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, which received Royal Assent in November last year, make provision for both women in a civil partnership to be named on their child's birth certificate. This means that from now on, the civil partner of the woman who gives birth will automatically be regarded as the second legal parent.

The legislation mirrors what already happens in the case of heterosexual couples; the husband of the woman receiving IVF treatment is automatically considered the second legal parent and is recorded as such on the child's birth certificate. Professor Lisa Jardine, chairwoman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has said that the new rule creates a 'level playing field' for couples whose desire for a family is a 'very powerful force...regardless of sexual orientation or circumstance' and for whom the only option of being recognised as legal parents of a child conceived through IVF until now has been adoption.

The HFEA also sees the 2008 Act as a change which removes some of the barriers single women and same-sex couples have traditionally faced when trying to access IVF treatment, i.e., consideration of the child's 'need for a father'.

It will now also be possible for a person other than the woman's partner to be named on a birth certificate providing they have given consent and are not a close blood relative. This is of particular relevance to single women embarking on IVF treatment. New consent forms have been designed and must be registered before embryo transfer and implantation takes place, with the understanding that this second parent will be legally and financially responsible for the child. Parents will not be able to be 'added' to birth certificates retrospectively and same sex couples and single women have been advised to wait until after this week for treatment in order to take advantage of the new legislation.

At present, only lesbian couples and single women benefit from these new regulations, however in April 2010 it will be possible for male couples who have a child through egg donation and surrogacy to apply for a Parental Order which, if granted, would enable them both to be named parents on the child's birth certificate.

The law still does not cover women and same sex couples who self-inseminate at home.

New rules for same sex couples
PA |  5 April 2009
Recognition for same-sex couples as IVF changes introduced
LGF |  6 April 2009
Same-sex couples given equal IVF rights
Nursing Times |  6 April 2009
29 March 2010 - by Ailsa Stevens 
New legislation allowing same-sex couples to become the legal parents of children born following surrogacy will come into force next week. The change to the law means that couples using surrogacy no longer need to be married to be named on their child's birth certificate and is intended to afford unmarried and same-sex couples using any form of assisted reproduction the same rights to legal parenthood. It forms the final stage of the implementation of the UK's Human Fertilisati...
12 December 2009 - by Ben Jones 
The Irish Supreme Court has ruled that a 42-year old man should have access to a lesbian couple's son who was conceived using his donated sperm. The highest court in Ireland ruled that the man has 'natural rights' over the son and that while he should not be entitled to guardianship over the boy it is in the child's best interests for the father to be granted contact....
16 October 2009 - by Sarah Elliston 
1 October 2009 marked the second and major phase of the coming into force of the amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act 1990 made by the HFE Act 2008. The first phase, in April 2009, concerned parenthood provisions and the third and final phase (expected April 2010), will affect parental orders in surrogacy arrangements. Even from a legal perspective it is unfortunate and rather baffling that these changes have been brought about by amending the original legislation...
5 October 2009 - by Nisha Satkunarajah 
A lesbian couple has won a landmark case against a Californian clinic, where doctors allegedly cited their religious beliefs as grounds to refuse the couple IVF treatment....
7 September 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
The UK's Department of Health last week launched a consultation on the regulation of ‘Parental Orders', which are used to transfer legal parenthood from the surrogate (and her husband or partner if she has one) to the couple who commissioned the surrogacy arrangement. Prior to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, only married couples were able to apply for a parental order, however, the new rules will extend this right to parents where there is no formal union, including unmarried...
9 March 2009 - by Ben Jones 
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has released guidance that so long as an individual is willing to take on the legal rights and responsibilities of parenthood, they may be named on the birth certificate of a child born through fertility treatment. In addition the...
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