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Gay group's anger at Tory amendment to IVF Bill

Brian Brady,Whitehall Editor
Sunday 18 May 2008 00:00 BST

Gay campaigners criticised the Conservative Party last night after its health spokesmen attempted to force women to give the name of their sperm donor before being allowed IVF treatment.

Stonewall, the gay and lesbian campaign organisation, claimed that the Tories are limiting lesbian couples' access to in vitro fertilisation through an amendment to the controversial proposals which would require such children to have "a father or male role model".

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill returns to the House of Commons for two days' debate tomorrow. The Government had believed it had headed off damaging internal divisions over the creation of hybrid animal-human embryos and "saviour siblings" by allowing Catholic MPs and ministers a free vote on the most contentious elements of the Bill.

But campaigners on both sides of the genetic research and abortion rights debate have made it clear that they will return to the trenches tomorrow afternoon.

And last night Stonewall complained that the Tory frontbench, and a cross-party alliance of backbench MPs, was trying to block a move to stop fertility clinics from refusing treatment to single women or lesbians.

The shadow Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, has tabled an amendment to make the proposed legislation state the "need for supportive parenting and a father or male role model" for IVF-conceived children – rather than just the "need for supportive parenting". A Stonewall spokesman said the proposed amendment, along with another stating the "need for a father and a mother", would discriminate against non-traditional families.

He added: "Lesbian couples in stable, long-term relationships should have the same right to access these publicly funded services as anyone else."

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