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Swedish lesbians win right to obtain fertility services

Swedish lesbians win right to obtain fertility services

Lesbians who live together as registered partners in Sweden will be able to undergo artificial insemination at state-run clinics after lawmakers there on Thursday said they would amend a law that had prevented it. Currently, the state-run health system permitted assisted fertilization only for women who were either married to a man or lived with a male partner. The change in the law, which is expected to pass easily this month and take effect July 1, will give lesbian couples who are in a registered union the same benefit. After the child is born, both women would be regarded as its mother. "The basis for the bill is that lesbian couples will be on an equal footing with heterosexual couples when it comes to assisted fertilization," the government said. Sweden has a liberal attitude toward gays, but same-sex marriage is not legal. Since 1994, however, the country has allowed same-sex couples to be legally joined in official partnerships. The country also permits adoption by gay couples. Soeren Andersson, president of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender Rights, said the change marked another step for equality in the Scandinavian country, which is renowned for its sense of egalitarianism. "It means a lot to the lesbian community because it means that lesbian couples are now accepted in the Swedish health care system on the same level as heterosexual couples," he said. "The big thing now is that the government has removed the rule that lesbian couples are not allowed to have in vitro fertilization." Before the change, if a lesbian couple sought in vitro fertilization, it had to be done either through a private clinic or abroad.

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