Fertility laws drop need to consider role of father

Single women and lesbian couples will be able to seek fertility treatment without having to consider a father for their children under new laws approved by MPs last night.

Attempts by the former Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, to insist that clinics take account of a child's need for a father and mother when deciding on treatment were roundly rejected in a free vote that cut across traditional party lines.

The Commons voted by 292 to 217, a majority of 75, to throw out the cross-party amendment, despite claims that it was "common sense" to involve both sexes in children's upbringing.

Under the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, women seeking fertility treatment will no longer have to take into account the role of a father figure. Instead, the rules will be replaced with references to "supportive parenting".

MPs also threw out a Conservative attempt to insist on "a father or male role model" when clinics help women to conceive.

In an impassioned debate yesterday members of all parties cast aside usual political loyalties to clash over questions of discrimination, parenthood and the very nature of family life.

Iain Duncan Smith, told MPs that children who grew up without a father were more likely to fail at school or have problems with drugs and alcohol. He said: "We are saying come on, this is common sense. All we are saying is 'Take consideration of the need of a child for a father' not 'If you don't have a father you will never get treatment'. It's only considering it."

Geraldine Smith, Labour MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, said: "To most people outside this House you are just talking common sense. They would wonder why we are even having this debate.

"Is there any wonder people think politicians are out of touch with ordinary people when we have debates such as this. It's nonsense to suggest that we shouldn't take into account the need for a father."

But her Labour colleague Emily Thornberry, the MP for Islington South and Finsbury, warned: "I always worry when people start saying they are only applying common sense, because so often common sense is a cover for discrimination, narrowness and an inability to face the 21st-century."

The veteran Conservative MP, Sir Patrick Cormack, said: "Whatever may be the case in Islington, in Staffordshire it's thought normal for a child to have a mother and a father. Do you think it is as normal for a child to have two mothers?"

Tory Mark Simmonds said: "It is important to send through this particular piece of legislation a message to the country that fathers are important in the welfare of the child."

His party's amendments were: "about retaining a male influence in a child's upbringing, providing a balanced outlook to society, " he said.

Click here to have your say

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 special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert