Guest post by Atina Krajewska, Rachel Cahill-O’Callaghan, and Melanie Fellowes
The World Health Organisation is currently considering a change in the definition of infertility according to which, it has been reported, “single men and women without medical issues [would] be classed as ‘infertile’, if they do not have children but want to become a parent.” Although the WHO has not to date officially confirmed these reports, the possible changes have been considered controversial and provoked heated responses in other UK media. One of the main points of contention was the possibility of opening fertility treatment to single men. Before we engage in discussions about the new WHO standards concerning fertility treatment, which – it should be stressed – have not yet been officially announced or adopted, it is important to shed some light on the legal situation of single men in the UK, who wish to become single fathers using fertility treatment. This entry is aiming to exactly that. (In respect of single women, see this.)
A single man wishing to have a child will have to use a surrogate and will either use the surrogate’s ovum and his sperm, or she will carry an embryo created by his sperm and a donated egg. The HFE Act 1990 (as amended by the HFEA 2008) and the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 will therefore be the two most relevant pieces of legislation governing the area. Neither of these Acts expressly mentions single men as a separate class of patients.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 has never prevented single persons from accessing ARTs.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.