Church moves to accept IVF

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The Church of Scotland should soften its opposition to embryo experimentation, according to a report to its general assembly.

A study by the church's board for social responsibility reaffirms the church's opposition to surrogate motherhood. But it allows in vitro fertilisationbetween couples, and said a blanket ban cannot be maintained and that embryo experimentation should be accepted.

"The church, in allowing IVF within the marriage relationship while ruling out embryo research, was accepting the benefits of IVF while condemning the means used to achieve them," the report says.

All other forms of fertility treatment have been ruled out by the report, which also argues that married couples should have priority in the queue for infertility treatment over unmarried couples.

The report also argues that gay couples, or single people, should not be offered treatment. "We do not deny the capacity of people of homosexual orientation or single parents to raise children with loving concern, but we believe it is important for children to have role models of both sexes."

This last clause has been given sudden topicality by the discovery of a two-year-old boy outside Glasgow who lives with two lesbians and regards two gay men living up the road as his fathers. One of them is his natural father by one of the women.

The Rev Bill Wallace, convenor of the board, said: "I think the thing's a bizarre absurdity. I feel extremely concerned about the child."

The Rev Richard Kirker, of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said: "I would feel much more concerned about the child if it had no parents or one parent. I can't see a clear reason for restricting the choice that some lesbian or gay people might wish to exercise."