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Designer babies: Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow with Aspen and Saffron, the first of their five children (PA Photos)

Barrie Drewitt-Barlow is passionate about fatherhood and speaks lovingly of his five children. But he is no ordinary dad. Barrie and his partner of 11 years, Tony, were determined to start a family despite the obvious difficulties. 

The couple, both wealthy businessmen, realised their dream ten years ago with the birth of twins Aspen and Saffron. The babies were a product of the sperm of both men, an egg donor and a surrogate mother. Since then, the Drewitt-Barlows (the men merged both of their second names) have added another three children to their brood and have spent at least £700,000 doing so. The couple has pioneered a growing and ethically questionable trend among gay men and lesbians — using surrogates and other fertility procedures to produce designer babies. 

Today, the "Gaybe" revolution is booming. Although surrogacy and related fertility services are still accessed mainly by heterosexual couples, gay men are increasingly demanding equity. 

Known by some critics as "reproductive trafficking", surrogacy is an ethical minefield. Heterosexuals will use their own eggs and sperm but will rent a womb for the gestation, whereas gay men will need to use in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and the eggs from a donor in order to impregnate the surrogate. 

Prior to the Drewitt-Barlows' pioneering act, gay men accepted that having their own children as couples was impossible. In the past, lesbian couples would decide which one would carry the child and then ask a male friend to donate sperm and then self-inseminate. Today, they are more likely to use one of Britain's commercial sperm banks. 

While children's homes are full to bursting with abused, neglected and unwanted children, increasing numbers of lesbians and gay men are making their own, often spending huge amounts of money in order to conceive. 

IVF was developed in the 1970s as a response to infertility, with the first so-called test-tube baby being born in 1978. None of the major religions had, in 1978, an official policy on artificial insemination but the Roman Catholic Church raised the strongest objections at the time. 

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Rupert DeBare
November 12th, 2010
3:11 PM
"Selfish" is the word here. While I have sympathy for homosexuals, my greater concern is for the child, who should have, as a basic human right, the right to a balanced parental upbringing -i.e. a mother AND a father. The healthy complementarity of masculine and feminine characteristics in the normal family is not some vagary of chance, but the very proof of perfection in evolutionary design, as evidenced by virtually every survey of social statistics. It's time we started putting the child first, and sacrificing our desires for the sake of his interests.

October 22nd, 2010
5:10 AM
I concur with the criticisms raised in the other posts and would like to add that the article would be much better if it focused more generally on the commercialization of childbirth and reduced the LGBT community to just one of many interested parties. What about infertile heterosexual couples? What about the companies and technology that make designer babies both possible and even profitable? The author calls designer babies ethically questionable. However, she's not clear enough about her own ethical position, especially when she writes, "Having a black child in an all white household is entirely different from one with one black parent. Did they not consider this?" What exactly is this great difference they were supposed to consider? Wasn't part of this couple's decision to move beyond race as a defining quality of a family?

October 5th, 2010
5:10 PM
Bindel writes that "While children's homes are full to bursting with abused, neglected and unwanted children, increasing numbers of lesbians and gay men are making their own, often spending huge amounts of money in order to conceive." Why do same-sex couples have any greater ethical imperative to relieve this situation through adoption than any other couple (or single person that uses a donor and/or IVF)? Doesn't this logic require that EVERYONE who wants to have a child adopt one of the unwanted children, including those who would reproduce using their own sperm, eggs, and uterus? The double standard that the author wants to impose, while not the most egregious aspect of her homophobia (that prize might go to the idea that gay men are shallow pursuers of "designer" babies, rather than people who want to both reproduce and parent with the person they love), does demonstrate her inability to bring even basic analytic rigour to her argument.

October 5th, 2010
8:10 AM
Clearly, only a homosexual couple would treat choosing egg donors like selecting a new set of curtains. Julie Bindel's career success is baffling.

September 30th, 2010
10:09 AM
I find your article sneering, devoid of human warmth and homophobic. Where was the talk of the reality of being a parent that every one of these surrogating parents have faced and will face? I find your continued emphasis of the term "Gaybe" insulting and infuriating. It just shows that blogging is a substandard and probably ill supervised form of writing as I doubt you would get away with this diatribe even in the Daily Mail. Yours, a disgruntled former reader.

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