Lesbian couples face NHS ban on test-tube babies

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THE National Health Service should provide infertility treatment for married couples only, Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Health, said yesterday, writes Nicholas Timmins.

At the same time she asked the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to review its guidelines covering independent infertility centres after it was disclosed that a single mother, who claims to be a virgin, gave birth after infertility treatment four years ago.

Mrs Bottomley is considering new guidance which would rule out allowing lesbian couples to have children on the NHS. On BBC Radio 4's World at One programme yesterday, she said: 'I certainly don't expect the NHS to provide infertility treatment unless there is going to be a mother and a father and, frankly, I would expect them to be married.'