Recent fertility treatment trends show a significant rise in the number of women from same sex couples receiving in vitro fertilization (IVF) and donor insemination (DI).
This is just one aspect of the positive changes that have occurred in recent years which have provided the opportunity for lesbians to have families of their own. Same sex couples have various options in addition to IVF and DI when it comes to starting a family including co-parenting, adoption and surrogacy.
Whatever options are being considered, it is important that couples plan carefully and think long-term, as different laws apply in each case.
The Rise of IVF and DI for Same Sex Mums
A recently published report from the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has looked at key statistics on fertility trends in the UK. It reviewed treatment cycles started in 2011, their outcomes in 2012, and how these coincide with short and long term trends. This is the third HFEA report of this type to be published.
It showed that a total of 766 cycles of IVF were performed in women who registered with a female partner in 2011 which marked a 36.5 per cent increase over 2010. A total of 1,271 cycles of DI were also performed in women who registered with a female partner in 2011 which marked a 23.6 per cent increase over 2010.
These are significant increases year on year and in overall terms since collection of data started in 1991.
Legal Issues for Same Sex Mums
The HFEA report draws attention to the huge increase in same sex mums choosing to start families together. It is important for couples to understand that the different options available all require specific legal advice as part of the planning. Even in the context of IVF and DI there are different rules that apply depending on the circumstances.
In the case of DI, legal parenthood can depend upon whether the conception was carried out through a licensed clinic regulated by HFEA or at home by private arrangement. It can also be affected by whether the same sex couple are married/in a civil partnership or just co-habiting. For example, where same sex mums that are not married or in a civil partnership conceive a child at home in a private arrangement, the non-birth mother will have no legal parenthood unless they adopt the child.
Although informal private arrangements may initially seem a simpler option, if a relationship breakdown occurs later on it can cause serious disruptions to the lives of all concerned.