There’s been a lot of press coverage this week about the recent cuts to IVF on the NHS – several Clinical Commissioning Groups are now considering restricting treatment to women aged 30 to 35. Someone said to me that infertility only gets this sort of attention from the media when things are slow in the news. It’s true the silly season is upon us but it doesn’t seem like the news has been either slow or silly this week – after all two men seem to be threatening to blow us up. I know this kind of begs the question why you would want to bring a child into the world but, whilst we’re all still here, I agreed to appear on the BBC’s Sunday Morning Live to talk about IVF (not North Korea).
At best when people argue against IVF on the NHS, they just don’t understand the devastation it causes. At worst, there’s a covert implication that somehow it’s your own fault and you should just get over and on with it. It worries me when people on the other side of the argument – as there were on the show today – haven’t experienced the struggle to conceive themselves, yet seem so confident about dismissing treatment for what has been classified by the World Health Organisation as a disease.
For me, the bottom line is this: do we want a National Health Service that thinks it’s ok to propogate inequality? Is it right that the majority of public health care providers in this country are going against the guidelines of the Government agency which was established to promote clinical excellence and says that all women under the age of 40 struggling to conceive should be given three rounds of IVF? It won’t be long before your right to try for a baby, will be based on your ability to pay. Are we really saying that’s OK?
The producer of the show told me that they wanted to hear a little about my story – eleven rounds of unsuccessful fertility treatment usually piques people’s interest – and the fact that I am still pro IVF can come as a surprise. But I know that this reproductive technology does work. Not everytime for everyone – I am proof of that – but in the forty years since it was invented it has given millions of people the family they dream of. As long as those two men haven’t done what they’re threatening and we still have a world, why would we want to deny anyone a chance at that?
Thank you Jessica for posting such a brilliant post – it troubled me for days the inequality of the news about IVF and NHS. Mostly and selfishly because I lived in a postcode area that only offered 1 round of IVF and only if you were 35 on first try. I was 30 and so we funded all our own treatment. I felt misrepresented (my treatment didn’t work and we had no financial or emotional support) and sad at the news that this postcode lottery is still in force by people who have no idea how devastating the effects of infertility are and they are about to take away what little improvements there have been over the past 20 years. I look forward to tuning into Sunday live. And thank you for the enlightening facts as always – I’m now looking broader than myself and like you I think IVF should be available on the NHS even though it wasn’t available to me and we didn’t have our much desired family I believe it should be available to anyone who is unable to conceive.
And thank you for posting such a great and thoughtful comment! I think you’re so right that just as we are make improvements in opening this subject up, equality of access to treatment is gradually being taken away and that’s so sad and wrong. There’s so much to still to do but it’s solidarity like yours that keeps me onwards! Thank you xxx