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Thursday, 30 November, 2000, 12:26 GMT
NHS refuses surrogate payment
pregnancy scan
The woman wanted help to pay for a surrogate pregnancy
A woman who wanted her health authority to pay the costs of a surrogate pregnancy has been refused.

In one of the first cases of its kind, the 28-year-old married woman, named only as Mrs K, asked South Essex Health Authority for financial help.

Mrs K cannot have children because she does not have a womb, making even the latest fertility treatments hopeless.

Instead, she wants to have an embryo created from her egg and her husband's sperm implanted in a surrogate mother.

South Essex currently funds one "cycle" of fertility treatment for each infertile couple, allowing a single attempt at a pregnancy.

However, following a meeting on Thursday morning, the health authority decided not to contribute anything towards the costs of drugs and procedures.

Judicial review

Its director of communications, Martin Cresswell, told BBC News Online: "In normal circumstances, we base these decisions on the clinical evidence, and there is no mass of clinical evidence for this type of thing."

He added: "The panel considered a number of issues - such as what would happen if the surrogate decided to keep the child.

"However, in making the decision, we have told the woman concerned that she is well within her rights to seek a further judicial review."

In a recent High Court case, a woman left unable to bear children by a hospital blunder was not paid sufficient compensation to cover the costs of surrogacy in the US.

Although surrogacy is legal in the UK, rules stipulate that no money should change hands except to cover "reasonable expenses".

It is illegal to advertise for a surrogate - prospective parents have to wait to be contacted.

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See also:

14 Oct 98 | Background Briefings
Thirteen years of controversy
14 Oct 98 | Health
'Let them pay for babies'
21 Jan 00 | Health
Infertile woman loses court claim
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