Who does a child need more, mother or father? The unanimous answer would be “both,” since the mother and the father have different influences on the child and both are essential to the overall emotional growth.
However, there are single women who do not wish to have a husband but wish to have children and are confident they can raise a child all by themselves. One of the popular methods of achieving this is the IVF or in vitro fertilization; wherein the ova (egg cells) are removed from the woman’s ovary and then fertilized with sperm, in a fluid. Once they are fertilized, the zygote (fertilized egg) is transferred to the woman’s uterus, and this establishes a pregnancy.
There are several sperm banks, where the sperm from volunteers is frozen and stored. There is no length of time that the sperm can be stored and people have even conceived from sperm frozen for more than 20 years.
This sperm supplied by the sperm banks is being increasingly used by women without a male partner and even by single or coupled lesbians. Until now, sperm banks had to abide by supportive parenting, before giving out the sperm, which means the sperm was not made available to most single women or lesbians.
The law makers were of the opinion that children without fathers are more likely to have behavioral problems, problems at school with drugs and drink.
However, in a recent landmark voting, MPs in UK voted that single women and lesbian couples be allowed to raise kids without dads. This vote was aimed at removing the requirement that fertility clinics need to consider a child’s need for a father. Although, the government was prepared for a defeat, it won the two votes with wide margins of 75 and 68.
This win is music to the ears of single women and lesbians who will be granted the right to raise kids by themselves. Sperm banks will no longer have to impose any restrictions on providing sperm to them, just because their children will not have a father or a male role model.
In case of lesbian couples, the new law will allow both partners to be recognized as parents when they conceive with the donor sperm or even when gay men use surrogacy. Currently, only the natural mother or father is considered a parent automatically when gay couples have fertility treatment.
This new law is not favored by all and many people believe it changes the whole concept of a traditional family setting. They say that it is like hammering a nail into the coffin of the traditional family and specifically the role of the father. Archbishop of York, John Sentamu said, “Is it not self-evident that the welfare and needs of a child are enhanced and met when there is a father present?”
The people who spoke on behalf of this law, said that this is not an issue in a country which, according to statistics, has almost three million children in single-parent heterosexual families and 91.2% of these families are headed by the mother. They also said that in reality, almost every lesbian couple who have children, work assiduously to ensure that there are male role models for their children, among the family members or good friends.
A poll was conducted last month, which revealed that while 32 percent of people were in favor of this proposal, 40 percent were against it. It is also interesting to note that this poll also shows that people aged 55 and over were strongly opposed while people in the age groups 18 to 34 were strongly in favor of reform. This should sum up the sentiments of people.