A dramatic change to the definition of ‘infertility’ by the World Health Organization could open the door to gay surrogacy rights to millions of same-sex couples.

According to statements by doctors inside the WHO, the organization may redefine infertility so that everyone who wants a child but cannot will be considered infertile. The definition would include gay and lesbian couples as well as some singles.

Read all updates on surrogacy for same-sex families on our Blog.

Choose an egg donor noteEssentially the WHO is acknowledging the existence of “social infertility”. This would include those who are unable to conceive for purposed other than medical conditions. New guidelines by the WHO would treat social infertility in the same way as medical infertility.

Even further, the new guidelines suggest that having a child is an inherent right of all people, regardless of marital status or sexual orientation. This move has vast implications, as many groups now object to surrogacy based on a proposed denial of a child’s right to a genetic family. The WHO guidelines introduce a new right that could supersede (or at least balance) that perceived slight.

Currently the WHO defines infertility as “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse”. Dr David Adamson, an American IVF physician and one of the authors of the new standards, told the British media:

“The definition of infertility is now written in such a way that it includes the rights of all individuals to have a family, and that includes single men, single women, gay men, gay women. It puts a stake in the ground and says an individual’s got a right to reproduce whether or not they have a partner. It’s a big change. It fundamentally alters who should be included in this group and who should have access to healthcare. It sets an international legal standard. Countries are bound by it.”

The WHO also said the new standards will put pressure on the NHS to change the policy on who can access the IVF treatment. The health authority plans to send the new definition of infertility to all health ministers in 2017.

While we wait for more details from the WHO, we can only speculate about how the new guidelines will be written. Media reports suggest that they will open the door to commercial surrogacy, as well as other policies. WHO polices will certainly be used to justify leniency and the loosening of surrogacy restriction in countries where the practice is excluded from gay couples.

Critics of the new guidelines claim that the definition is too broad, essentially classifying single men and women without medical issues but with an inactive sex life as “infertile.” The guidelines implies that those who do not have children but “want to become a parent,” would be considered infertile for the purposes of seeking treatments, including commercial surrogacy.

For more details on the new guidelines check out the Telegraph UK.