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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 June, 2003, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
First British internet baby due
Over 500 women are registered with mannotincluded.com
A baby believed to be the first in Britain to be conceived from sperm bought over the internet, is due to be born next month.

The child's parents - a heterosexual couple - are one of 16 couples to have used a website called "mannotincluded.com", which was initially set up for lesbian couples and single women.

The fresh sperm is sent directly to the client's house, where they carry out the insemination process themselves.

Critics say this method of pregnancy may be unsafe because the donor could pass on infections like HIV.

They also insist children have a right to know both their real parents.

But the founder of mannotincluded.com, John Gonzalez, defended his business.

He told News 24: "It allows couples to go on the site and select a donor who fits the characteristics of themselves and their partners.

"Our donors are probably among the healthiest people in the UK in terms of being screened.

Biological father

"In the UK we have the highest teenage pregnancy rate. We need to look at that, not the fact that people want to have children that they want to bring up in a caring, loving environment."

But Anthony Cole, of the Medical Ethics Alliance, said he was concerned that the company was not controlled by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

He also expressed concern about the absence in the child's life of its biological father.

"There's a vital role for the father figure in a child's life. There's an enormous amount of research that backs that up," he told the BBC.

An HFEA spokeswoman said the website was not covered by them because it dealt primarily in fresh sperm.

She said sperm accepted in HFEA clinics was tested and frozen in quarantine for six months and then tested again, to screen for diseases such as HIV which have incubation periods.

The site, which has been running for a year, reports to have so far helped 16 couples conceive successfully, with all but one being lesbian.

There are 3,000 anonymous male donors registered on the site and 500 women registered, according to a site spokesman.

Those behind the service say that anonymity of the donor is paramount, as this rules out the prospect of any complications for both sides in the future.

The BBC's Carole Mitchell
"Those behind the website say donor anonymity is the essence of the service"

Internet sperm bank for lesbians
24 Jun 02  |  Health
Lesbian couple buy internet sperm
28 Jun 03  |  Merseyside

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