Dr Ian Gibson MP
Select Committee on Science and Technology
The House of Commons
Westminster
London SW1A 1AA

15/11/04

In the review of the HFEA

The Medical Ethics Alliance is a coalition of six Hippocratic and World Faith medical and nursing bodies that promotes discussion on ethical matters within and without the health care professions. In your consideration of the role of the HFEA we would like to make a contribution on the subject of fatherhood.

The question of fatherhood is also pre-eminently part of what has been called “the masculine question” and concerns the role of fathers not only as donators of life, but part of the reality of a child's life. For a child to develop a mature identity and even a gender identity there is growing evidence of the importance of the father. This is more than a male figure in the child's life but, at best, a recognition of the donation that that person has made towards the child's life. In some cultures this is very strongly held.

We note that though there is some education directed towards motherhood it is rare that the nature of fatherhood is recognised. There should be a very cautious approached to reproductive technology which excludes the father from the day to day experience of the life of the child.

There is very little political recognition or promotion of fatherhood. Recent party policies on child care illustrate this point where there is an emphasis on family economic and working patterns. The recent granting of so called “paternity leave” being the only exception we can recall, though even that is not on a par with maternity leave.

We consider that there should be serious research carried out into the separation between fatherhood and artificially conceived life, and the health and welfare of children so conceived. There is already a body of hard evidence relating to the importance of the father-child relationship which more than outweighs the flimsy contrary studies. We suggest that two recent books may be of interest;“Il Padre. L`Assente Inacceplable, and “Il Mesteriere di Padre” both by the psychotherapist, Claudio Rise,St Paul's books .

Yours sincerely

Dr Anthony Cole
JP FRCP FRCPCH, Chairman
106a Battenhall Rd, Worcester, WR5 2BT t/fax 01905 352967

copy, Dr J Qureshi, Health Committee, Muslim Council of Britain