In 2008, same-sex couples were recognised as the legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos. It meant that, for example, the civil partner of a woman who carried a child conceived through IVF was recognised as the child’s legal parent.
Up until this point, the ‘need for a father’ had been used by some clinics to refuse treatment to female same-sex couples and single women. In its place, fertility clinics must take into account the child’s need for ‘supportive parenting’ as part of their considerations around the welfare of the child.
The Civil Partnerships Act 2004 granted same-sex couples who enter into a civil partnership the same rights and entitlements as those of different sex couples. In conjunction with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 this includes issues to do with legal parenthood of children.
The Equality Act (Sexual Orientations) Regulations 2007 made it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services. This includes healthcare. When the law came into force there remained a contradiction with existing laws and regulations regarding the provision of fertility treatment which allowed fertility clinics to consider the need for a father when treating people. This discriminatory provision was removed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.
As well as the obvious big considerations you have to make when becoming a parent, for lesbian and bi women there’s also a lot of decisions that need to be made on how to get pregnant. Stonewall has produced a whole guide on this for lesbians and bi women – Pregnant Pause. It’s one of our most downloaded and requested resources, but please note, it is from 2009!