Same-sex Couples: Insemination Services

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 24th March 2021.

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Photo of Margaret Ferrier Margaret Ferrier Independent, Rutherglen and Hamilton West

What assessment she has made of the ability of same-sex couples to access insemination services in the UK.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

Regulation of fertility treatment services is UK-wide, but policy is devolved. In England, decisions about local fertility services are determined by clinical commissioning groups, taking account of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines, which include provision for same-sex female couples.

Photo of Margaret Ferrier Margaret Ferrier Independent, Rutherglen and Hamilton West

At present, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority guidance largely prohibits supplying sperm for insemination at home. Same-sex couples who are trying to get pregnant have few options via the NHS other than to access insemination services from a registered UK clinic. That means that couples who live further away from such clinics face further costs in their aspiration to start a family. Will the Minister, working with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the HFEA, explore ways in which this issue could be mitigated?

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

On the question about the delivery of sperm to residential addresses, that can be done across the UK, but the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority advises against it because the origin of the sample and whether it is undamaged cannot be guaranteed. Undergoing treatment at a licensed UK clinic provides the donor and the patient with legal certainty about their parental status and their future responsibilities, but I am very happy to take up the hon. Lady’s question further with the Minister for Innovation, as this sits in his portfolio.