Gay Male Parents Get Dedicated Fertility Program

Gay Family
LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles fertility clinic has launched what it says is the first dedicated program for gay men wanting to become parents.
The Fertility Institutes, already a pioneer in the controversial area of gender selection, said it was responding to huge demand from gay male couples around the world who want their own biological children but are often thwarted by prejudice and bureaucracy.
“There are a lot of centers that dibble and dabble in this. But we are the only program for gay men that has psychological, legal, medical, surrogates, donors and patients all taken care of in one place,” Dr Jeffrey Steinberg, director of The Fertility Institutes, told Reuters in an interview.
“The demand is incredible. The United States has always been busy but we are seeing more and more demand from abroad.”
The last few years have seen a large increase in the number of gay men who want to father children using surrogate mothers rather than opting for adoption, which is difficult or impossible for homosexuals or lesbians in several U.S. states.
Gay male couples seeking parenthood usually have to go to several different agencies to find surrogate mothers, egg donors, lawyers and medical treatment.
Potential surrogate mothers often opt out when they discover the couple wanting a child is gay, partly because of perceptions that homosexuals have a higher risk of diseases such as hepatitis, syphilis and the HIV virus.
Steinberg gets consent from surrogates up front, tests the fathers-to-be for HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, and freezes their sperm for six months as an extra safeguard.
Steinberg has already treated about 70 gay male couples while perfecting the program. Some 40 percent were Americans, with the rest from Britain, Germany, China, Canada, Italy, Brazil and South Africa.
The average cost is about $60,000 — and three-quarters of gay couples pay extra to choose the sex of their baby. Gender selection of babies is illegal in most countries except the United States.
“We thought they were all going to come in and want boys, but about 65 percent want male and the others want girls,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg said he was braced for controversy about going public with the program but hoped to ride the storm.
“This is new. It is challenging. We understand people are a little intimidated, a little frightened by it,” he said. “It just takes time to get used to things.”
Data from the 2000 U.S. census showed there were some 301,000 unmarried male couples in the United States. Figures for those adopting or having biological children were unavailable.
from Reuters

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