IVF handed to lesbian couple after legal fight

An anonymous lesbian couple have been given access to IVF on the NHS after a legal battle.

The women, who have not been named, were not given the treatment at first by a primary care trust, but challenged the decision.

From October couples will only need to offer “supportive parenting” when requesting IVF, rather than the current regulation of a “need for a father”.

One of the women suffered from a common infertility syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome, which disrupts ovulation.

Ruth Hunt, head of policy at Stonewall, the homosexual rights group, said: “The changes in the law should mean that no infertile lesbian is refused NHS fertility treatment on the grounds of her sexual orientation.”

The government’s equality watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), reportedly took an interest in the case and offered its support to the couple.

In February, the EHRC were set to fund the case of another lesbian couple in Scotland who wanted IVF.

The Commission were to allocate £60,000 to Caroline Harris and Julie McMullan, but the Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Health Board backed down and allowed the couple treatment.

The anonymous lesbian couple enlisted David Herbert, a partner at the law firm Lester Aldridge, when they were not given IVF.

Mr Herbert said: “Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is contrary to the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act. There is an element of conflict in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 which requires clinics to consider a child’s ‘need for a father’.

“This was used historically to justify denying treatment to same-sex couples. The ‘need for a father’ element is just about to be removed on the grounds that it is discriminatory. The assessment will be for ‘supportive parenting’, which will come into force in October.”

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