Co-ParentMatch.com wishes Natalie and Ashling the best of luck with their brilliant new same-sex fertility clinic.
A lesbian couple are to open Britain’s first gay-only fertility centre.
Natalie Drew and Ashling Phillips, who have two children by a sperm donor, said they decided to set up a centre exclusively for gay people after their own experiences in trying to start a family.
The Gay Family Web Fertility Centre opens its office on Monday in Birmingham where it will ‘match-make’ potential parents with sperm donors, egg donors or surrogates
The couple say that there are not enough resources for same-sex couples because much of the current advice is focused on heterosexual couples.
Miss Drew, 35, said: ‘One lady we spoke to was having trouble conceiving, but she was told that she wasn’t eligible for treatment because she hadn’t had sex with a man within the last 10 years.
‘Most of the GPs will try to be progressive, but they will refer to the person carrying the child and not the partner, which makes them feel excluded.’
The couple started the fertility centre online in 2007. Following a surge in demand they have decided to set up an office, with a nurse to carry out blood tests and other checks, and a counsellor to provide support from conception to childbirth.
Miss Drew and Miss Phillips said they had suffered problems when trying to conceive their daughter Gianna, five, and son Kai, two. Doctors had asked them to bring the father in for tests, she said, which was difficult because he lived in London.
Miss Drew said she was made to feel alienated by the process because Miss Phillips, 32, was carrying Kai and staff addressed her as the mother, rather than including both of them.
She added: ‘A lot of the criteria is outdated and hasn’t moved with the times. Some couples were spending thousands of pounds going through the process and were no further forward.
‘We wanted to set up something where we would act as a go-between and where couples could meet potential donors face-to-face to work out how they would work things out. We also want to save people from having to explain their situation: that they are gay and using a donor.’
The service helped 60 couples last year and costs £9.99 a month, with extra fees for tests and consultations.
The project has been criticised by Christian groups
Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, said: ‘Kids need a mum and a dad, a male and female role model. This is denying that.
‘This clinic is more to do with the desires of adults rather than the best interests of children.’
Miss Drew said: ‘There is a lot of research to say that children brought up by same-sex couples are just as happy as children from traditional families.
‘We have had a bit of hostility, more from different gay groups that run similar centres who are a bit hostile because we’ve stood up and said that this needs to be exclusively gay.’
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The law is very clear: someone who is providing a service cannot refuse to serve somebody on the basis of their sexual orientation, but in this case they can market themselves as a same-sex fertility clinic.
‘However, if a straight couple were to approach them for help, they would not be able to refuse to serve them.’
The pair say they would not turn away a heterosexual couple, but the clinic’s priority is people in same-sex relationships.