Delays on publicly funded IVF denying some LGBTQ+ couples the chance to have children

A publicly-funded IVF scheme was due to roll-out this month, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said this will be delayed due in part to COVID-19.

publicly funded IVF feminine person holding a baby in the air is sillouetted against a sunset on a beach

Last December, it was promised by then Minister for Health Simon Harris that 2021 would see the rollout of publicly-funded IVF but Noteworthy has learned that there will be a further wait on the timeline.

In December 2019, phase two of the model of care was announced and included “the introduction of tertiary infertility services, including IVF, in the public health system”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health told Noteworthy that “it is not possible at this time to give a definitive timeline for the completion of phase two of the rollout of the model of care”. They added that “it is contingent on the [assisted human reproduction] AHR legislation being commenced, as well as the required resources being in place”.

At the time of the phase two announcement Minister Harris told “I think it’s likely to take most of 2020 to pass and commence the legislation. So realistically I think you’re looking at 2021, in terms of IVF being available through the public health service and being publicly funded”.

The promise of financial support for people undergoing fertility treatment was first announced in 2017.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the completion of phase one of the model of care, which involves setting up Regional Fertility Hubs has “slowed due to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic” but “additional funding is being made available in 2021… to facilitate the continuation and completion of phase one”.

The cost of IVF is quoted as around €4,500 on the main Irish fertility clinic websites. It is reported that the cost can quickly escalate when multiple cycles, as well as other tests and treatments, are needed.

CEO of Equality for Children, Ranae von Meding, called the delays “disappointing” saying that many LGBTQ+ people are currently priced out of having children.

Speaking to GCN, von Meding said:

“It’s really disappointing to hear of the delay of the roll-out of publicly funded fertility treatment. Currently, LGBTQ+ people can only access fertility treatment to start their families if they have the means to do so. This means that many LGBTQ+ people are denied the opportunity to become parents.

Ranae adds that many LGBTQ+ families are still in legal limbo due to a lack of adequate legislation.

“In addition to this, many of our families are still left in legal limbo from the lack of adequate legislation- meaning that in most LGBTQ+ families only one parent is recognised as a legal parent.”

Nearly six years on from Marriage Equality, only 40% of LGBTQ+ families have the same rights as heterosexual couples, leaving behind 60% of children as not having access to full legal parental rights.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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