MP attacks NHS surrogacy fees

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The Independent Online
The Health Minister Gerald Malone yesterday promised to look "very carefully" at the issues raised by plans for the first surrogate birth on the NHS.

He was responding at Commons question time to Tory MP Ann Winterton, who demanded an assurance that Government funds would not be provided in such cases.

"Sad though the circumstances are surrounding the woman in question, the pounds 15,000 estimated cost of the surrogacy would be better spent elsewhere," Mrs Winterton said.

Mr Malone replied: "This raises very difficult ethical issues and we will be looking very carefully at the issues raised."

His comments came after John Parsons, the senior consultant planning the first NHS surrogate birth, denied the scheme encouraged women to "rent their womb" for cash gain. Mr Parsons, head of the Assisted Conception Unit at King's College Hospital in south London, said on GMTV that it was fair that a woman should be reimbursed up to pounds 10,000 for carrying another's child as compensation for giving up work. Details of the prospective parents and the child carrier in this case are being kept secret.

A local health authority is looking at ways of funding the scheme.