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Lesbian couples to get right to insemination

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16:44 CET+01:00
Legislation that will give lesbian couples the right to be inseminated and receive test tube fertilisation treatment on the Swedish health service appears to be imminent.

Currently, only women married or living with a man qualify for state help to get pregnant. As a result, many lesbian couples go to private clinics or seek treatment abroad.

Sveriges Radio learned that the new regulations, which could come into force on 1 July this year, would apply to women who are living together or who are registered partners. If both women agree to the treatment, both can be recognised as the baby's mother.

If couples continue to seek treatment abroad, the regulations will state that the authorities will still have to investigate who the father is - as they do today. The woman who does not give birth will also have to apply to be an adopting parent.

Anna-Karin Skantz, acting vice chairwoman of national gay rights group RFSL, was relieved at the news:

"About time too. Obviously this is extremely welcome. It's positive that couples can seek treatment in the protected environment of a clinic."

The three coalition parties, the Social Democrats, Left Party and Greens, are said to be agreed that health authorities should prioritise lesbian couples as highly as heterosexual couples.

Skantz' colleague at RFSL, chairman Sören Andersson, believes this is the key point:

"Now it's important to make sure the legislation provides real possibilities to get treatment and not just theoretical ones. If female couples end up at the bottom of the waiting lists, the new law won't make any difference."

However, Ulf Holm of the Greens, was anxious to point out that the new law was far from finalised. Agreement between the three parties has been reached in principle, but there still seem to be a number of details to be resolved.

"We're holding discussions this afternoon," he told Aftonbladet.

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