NHS fertility treatments allow two-mum families to reach record levels

More lesbian couples having babies than ever

Social Affairs Correspondent

Record numbers of lesbian couples are becoming parents through fertility treatment, official figures show. The number of two-mum families jumped by more than a third in 2012, according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

The increase coincides with reforms which made it possible for gay couples to receive fertility treatment on the National Health Service. It also reflects the societal changes brought about by the introduction of civil partnerships in 2005.

Women in same sex relationships conducted 766 cycles of IVF in 2012, up 36 per cent on 2011. Similarly, the number of lesbian couples using artificial insemination to conceive was up 20 per cent on 2011, with 1,271 cycles recorded.

The increase follows several legal breakthroughs for gay couples wanting to conceive. In May 2012 new guidelines for fertility treatment made it possible for gay couples and women over 40 to receive IVF on the National Health Service. Legal changes in 2009 also meant lesbians could no longer be discriminated against for trying to produce children without a father.

Natalie Gamble, a leading fertility lawyer, said: “The law used to say that before offering treatment clinics had to consider the welfare of any child being born without a father. I’ve got two kids with my same sex partner and in 2001 to 2002 it was almost impossible to find a clinic that would do it, but we did find one in the end.

“In 2009 when the law changed it made it very clear that people should be given equal access to treatment. It also meant that lesbian couples conceiving together are both recorded as the legal parents automatically. Now with same sex marriage, everything is moving towards a more open and tolerant society.”

Gay rights campaigners said they were delighted with the figures, published less than 48 hours before same sex couples can conduct legal marriages for the first time. Ruth Hunt, acting chief executive of Stonewall, said: “Lesbian, gay and bisexual people can provide loving and stable homes for children and we’re delighted to see more and more couples realising that they can start a family of their own.”

Overall, more than  47,000 women underwent 62,000 cycles of IVF in 2012, a slight increase on the previous year. Donor insemination increased by 8.8 per cent to 4,453 cycles of treatment. The figures also showed for the first time that woman over 45 are now using donor eggs more often than their own.

An HFEA spokesman said: “The Register provides a window into not just fertility treatment per se, but it also indirectly into modern society. While it is not possible from the statistics alone to explain the rise in same-sex female couples having fertility treatment, it seems to be in keeping with the more open and accepting society that we have become over the last 20 years; especially so since 2009, when the rules around legal parenthood changed in favour of same sex couples.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us