Thursday, April 12, 2007

U.K gays go stateside for in-vitro babies

U.K. gays go stateside for in vitro babies -

In the United Kingdom it's illegal to pay a surrogate mother or an egg donor. But for about $65,000, gay British couples can create a baby—and designate its sex—in an American in vitro fertilization program for two-father families.
Nearly 20 male couples from the United Kingdom have signed up for the Fertility Institute's program, in which they purchase a university student's eggs, which are then implanted in a paid surrogate, who bears the child.
With offices in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and another planned in New York City, the Fertility Institute is one of the world's largest providers of fertility services to gay people.
Of the $65,000 the clinic charges the couple, about $25,000 to $35,000 goes to the surrogate mother.
The program is thought to be the first surrogacy venture aimed at gay men. Couples can choose the sex of the baby, with 65% so far opting for male babies. Sex selection of babies, though illegal in most countries, is permitted in the United States as well as the United Kingdom.
Said Josephine Quintavalle, founder of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, a British anti-IVF group: "This program shows we have reached the ultimate in the manufacture of the bio-baby. There always seems to be a new way of reconstructing the traditional family. On the one hand, in the United Kingdom we are saying that a child doesn't need a father [referring to last year's proposed U.K. legislation that would exempt single women and lesbians seeking IVF treatment from legal requirements to provide a father figure], but in America we are saying that two fathers is a good idea.
"It's time to ask children what they'd like rather than what selfish adults think is a good idea. I would put my money on children preferring a stable family with a mother and father."
The Fertility Institute's Jeffrey Steinberg said, "There are a lot of centers that dibble and dabble in this. But we are the only program for gay men that has psychological, legal, medical, surrogates, donors, and patients all taken care of in one place. The demand is incredible. The United States has always been busy, but we are seeing more and more demand from abroad."
Steinberg also notes the advantage of allowing parents to choose an egg donor and a surrogate. "If we separate them, we get the best egg donors and the best women to carry the babies, which is the perfect combination."
Steinberg added, "In the past two years we have probably treated 20 British gay couples, and in the past four days, since launching the dedicated program for gay couples, we have had about 25 e-mails from gay British couples. There is a pent-up demand for this."
Catholic agencies in the United Kingdom had sought exemption from new regulations compelling them to consider same-sex couples as prospective parents, but Prime Minister Tony Blair in January refused their request. (Stewart Who?, U.K.)

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