Austrian court ends insemination ban for lesbian pairs

VIENNA Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:11am EST

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria's constitutional court has overturned a ban on sperm donations for lesbian couples, giving parliament an end-2014 deadline to amend a law that it said wrongly kept such women from fulfilling a wish for children.

The high court found no "especially convincing or grave reasons" to support such a ban, a standard set by the European Court of Human Rights, it said in a summary of the ruling.

It dismissed legislators' argument that using donated sperm to impregnate women in same-sex partnerships could foster surrogate motherhood, saying this method of artificial insemination posed no special ethical or moral issues.

It also rejected arguments that such bans were needed to protect families, noting same-sex couples did not replace heterosexual marriages so could not jeopardize them.

The ruling applied specifically to lesbian couples, so left open whether single women were also covered. It did not address whether gay men should be allowed to have children via surrogate mothers, the summary said.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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