By Hilary White

LONDON, February 1, 2008 ( – While the House of Lords continues to debate the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, the National Health Service (NHS) is considering paying women to carry children to term for someone else, including for homosexual partners.

The Daily Mail reports that the North East Essex Primary Care Trust has discussed the possibility of paying for couples to have IVF services, including expenses for surrogacy.

A report presented to the Trust directors said, “It appears that the majority of applications for surrogacy to be funded on the NHS stem from heterosexual couples, but consideration would need to be taken for any homosexual couple or single person who wished to become a parent through surrogacy.”

“There are more extreme scenarios to consider, such as the husband or parents of a dead woman applying for surrogacy to provide a baby using the dead woman’s embryo.”

Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, spoke to about the practice of surrogacy, saying it is simply “part and parcel” of the commodification of the human embryo in the entire project of artificial reproduction.

Tully said that while SPUC had not yet developed a specific policy on the practice, “we would be broadly critical,” in the same terms with which they criticise artificial reproductive services in general. “The whole human process going in the Brave New World direction,” he said.

“The embryo becomes a product,” he said, “as if those who are pursuing the new reproductive technologies are looking for different ways of using their new product.”

Pending further information, the Trust plans to render a decision next month.