From CFNews. The concept of a two-mother family is to be enshrined in British law for the first time. The Human Tissues and Embryos Bill, to be announced in the Queen's Speech next week, will give both women in a lesbian relationship the legal status of parents when one of them gives birth following fertility treatment. Experts say this marks a historic change in how a family is legally defined. The change was condemned by family campaigners as a 'dangerous social experiment' but supporters said it was 'logical and just'.
The Bill lays down that where two women are in a relationship and one has fertility treatment in order to conceive then the partner should be treated as the other 'parent' even if they are not in a civil partnership. In those circumstances no man - such as the sperm donor - can be treated as a father, the Bill says, to avoid a child having three legal parents.
The change reflects the fact that in a heterosexual couple when the woman is inseminated with donor sperm the man is treated as the father even though he has no biological link to the resulting child. Male homosexual couples who have children via surrogate mothers or by adoption are not covered by the new legislation.
The Bill says that where there is reference to the father of a child such as on birth certificates this is to be read as reference to the female parent who did not give birth. It will also say for the first time that babies born through fertility treatment do not need to have a father figure and parents will be banned from choosing the sex of their child.
Campaigners said there was no substitute for a family unit in which children are brought up with input from both mother and father. Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said it was a dangerous social experiment. 'Men and women are not interchangeable and fathers are not an optional extra.' Dr Anthony Cole, the chairman of the Medical Ethics Alliance, said: 'It doesn't seem right for the child not to have a father. There's strong evidence that children, particularly boys, need a male influence in their lives.' Bishops are concerned over the issue. The Anglican Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, said in August, 'Is it right for the state to construct a system to bring children into this world without making provision for their having a father? The Bill should be looking at how it can champion the role of fathers in the context of fertility treatment more effectively.' Susan Freeborn, a barrister specialising in child law, said the change would cause problems when civil partnerships break down. 'The mother of a child has always had unique status in the past but now there will be two. It will be difficult then to determine which of the 'mothers' is the most important.' Ruth Hunt, of the homosexual 'rights' charity Stonewall, said: 'This recognises that lots of gay people have children and make very good parents.' If passed, the Bill will also allow children born from donor sperm or eggs to have limited access to information about other children from the same donor.