Today, new fertility laws are to begin their passage through the House of Commons, with a number of important debates about the current draft text coming up.
Some MPs are unhappy about the lack of a specific mention of fathers in the part of the text regarding suitability for IVF. The current draft has only a provision to ensure that their is an appropriate and stable family environment in which a child can be brought up – the presence of a father-figure is not specified, which is intended to be a correction to a current anomaly.
Currently, fertility legislation states that a father-figure must be identified. However, more recent Equal Rights legislation has superceded this requirement, allowing lesbian couples to have children using bank sperm. It is therefore proposed that the text of the fertility bill should be changed to reflect the reality – failure to correct it would mean that the current state of affairs would be reversed, with lesbian couples unable to have children once again.
Iain Duncan Smith is one of the prime Parliamentary opponents of this amendment. Earlier this week, he told The Observer:
Without fathers, boys join gangs and teenage girls become pregnant
This is obviously something that Mr Duncan Smith believes strongly, as it seems unlikely that he would want to use small-minded, bare-faced mis-truths to offend large swathes of the population who have grown up without fathers unless he had a very good reason to do so.
He surely wouldn’t express such an ignorant view of the causes of teenage pregnancy and urban crime unless his belief was so strong as to think that the end was justified by any means.
And I’m quite sure that he wouldn’t want to leave himself open to accusations of ignorance unless this was a matter which he felt was of critical importance.
Curiously, though, he didn’t believe in the role of fathers strongly enough to support the Employment Bill in 2002 – a Bill which gave fathers far greater entitlement to Paternity Leave.
Nor was his conviction such to compel him to bother to vote on the issue of children conceived through IVF knowing their natural fathers, back in 2004.
And nor did he believe it strongly enough not to vote in favour of the War in Iraq – a war which has left hundreds of British children without fathers, and tens of thousands of Iraqi families fatherless.
If I didn’t know better, I’d suggest this was thinly veiled homophobia from an MP who doesn’t want lesbian couples to be allowed IVF.
Of course, Mr Duncan Smith is far above that, and the fact that he’s voted against Equal Rights legislation time and again lends no weight to the argument: He’s just thinking of the kids.