Family and ethical groups have expressed concern as Europe's first fertility clinic for lesbians and single women opened in London today. The "Mannotincluded" Women's New Life Centre in Harley Street says it will offer a confidential service to women without a male partner. The centre has not yet been granted a licence to carry out donor insemination. No treatments can be carried out unless this is granted by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). But they are already offering assessment and counselling. Earlier this year the clinic's founders set up a website advertising their services. Like the website, the clinic will screen potential sperm donors and test them for HIV and genetic defects. Ann Furedi, HFEA spokeswoman, said: "We will consider the centre's application in the same way as any other centre applying for a licence to carry out donor insemination." Peter Garrett, from Life, said: "The child's need for a father should be respected. What we are doing here with natural procreation is turning it into some pick and mix stand." Comment on Reproductive Ethics issued the following statement today: 'The HFE Act 1990 governing all aspects of assisted reproduction wisely acknowledges a child's need for a father which is described as an intrinsic feature of a child's welfare. To deliberately denigrate the role of fatherhood to an anonymous donation of sperm makes absolutely mockery and nonsense of the Act. Unfortunately, thousands of licences for single and lesbian women have already been issued and the new HFEA chairwoman, Suzi Leather, has already expressed great enthusiasm in recent interviews for this unacceptable way of creating families... It remains for Parliament to re-establish sanity and reiterate what it meant by father when the 1990 Act was passed.
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