According to a Reuter's news report, a fertility clinic in Los Angeles, California, has announced that in response to overwhelming international demand, it will offer the first fertility programme especially designed to assist gay men to become parents.
The Fertility Institutes already controversially offers gender selection, which is prohibited in the UK and most countries except the United States. It now claims it has the first programme of its kind that offers complete fertility services to gay couples.
According to Dr Jeffrey Steinberg, director of The Fertility Institutes, '...we are the only programme for gay men that has psychological, legal medical, surrogates, donors and patients all taken care of in one place'.
The treatment on average costs £30,000, and 75 per cent of gay couples pay more to select the gender. Dr Steinberg anticipated they would all want baby boys, but found that only about 65 per cent made this request.
The programme was test piloted through the treatment of 70 gay male couples; 40 per cent of whom were Americans, with the remaining 60 per cent travelled from abroad -Britain, Germany, China, Canada, Italy, Brazil and South Africa.
'The demand is incredible. The United States has always been busy but we are seeing more and more demand from abroad', explained Dr Steinberg.He expects controversy in response to the public announcement of the programme because it is novel and people may be 'frightened by it'. But he also expects any uproar will simmer down over time once everyone 'gets used to things'.
To dispel commonly perceived fears, particularly on behalf of surrogates, initial tests for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and other infectious diseases are administered to the prospective gay couple and their disease-free sperm is then frozen for six months as an additional precaution. Fully-informed consent is then obtained from the surrogate.
Recent years have seen a surge in the numbers of gay male couples seeking to have their own biological children. Many are faced with insurmountable prejudice. Homosexual adoption is banned in several US states, and finding an agency or clinic to assist them medically and legally is extremely difficult worldwide.
Data from the 2000 US census reveals that there are 301,000 unmarried gay male couples in the country, but the numbers of those adopting or having children are not known. The Fertility Institutes offers new hope, albeit with a price tag, to gay male couples seeking parenthood.