Fathers are to be airbrushed out of birth certificates for children born to single women by IVF.
The mother can designate anyone she wishes to be the ‘second parent’ and it does not matter what their relationship is to her or the child, or whether the person is male or female.
The move will allow two women in a lesbian relationship to both be named as the ‘parents’ on the birth certificate of a child born to one of them by IVF.
Critics say the new rules, which come in on 6 April as part of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, will downgrade the status of fatherhood and put the ‘rights’ of parents above those of children.
Research shows that boys lacking father figures are more likely to turn to gang leaders or drug dealers for role models. Girls who lack the unconditional, empathetic love of a father are more vulnerable to early, regretted sex.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority states: “The women receiving treatment with donor sperm (or embryos created with donor sperm) can consent to any man or woman being the father or second parent.”
Iain Duncan Smith, head of the Centre for Social Justice think-tank, commented: “Teenage pregnancy is on the increase, abortion is on the increase, family breakdown is at record levels and we have got a growing number of dysfunctional children that are the product of broken homes.
“The lesson seems to be loud and clear to me that fathers are required.”
Dr Trevor Stammers, a GP and lecturer in medical ethics, said: “There is no doubt from sociological evidence accumulated over the past few years that children do best in a two-parent married family with heterosexual couples being the married parents.
“It probably will be the child who is the loser but by the time we find that out, in 15 or 16 years, a huge amount of damage will have been done.”
Baroness Deech, the former chair of the HFEA, said: “This is putting the rights of the parents way above those of the child. It is absurd that anyone can be named as the father or the second parent.”