Government-Funded IVF Treatment Is Coming – But A Lot Of People Are Excluded

The scheme is welcome news, but excludes many people

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This week, the government announced their funded IVF treatment plan.

The new scheme will entitle eligible couples funding for one round of IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) or three cycles of IUI (intrauterine insemination), and alleviate some of the incredibly high cost of such processes.

While news of this funding is more than welcome for the countless couples who struggle to meet the costs of IVF, not everybody who wants to avail of the treatment will be permitted to do so.

To be eligible for this funding, a couple must live in Ireland, be referred by their GP or a local fertility hub, and have no living children from the current relationship.

The couple must have been in a relationship for at least one year, and have undergone a maximum of one round of IVF. An age limit will also be placed on women up to the age of 41 and men up to 60.

“The rationale around age from the expert group is that there is a very significant reduction in the chances of success as a woman moves from around her mid 30s up into her 40s,” Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly told RTÉ News At One.

“It’s about targeting the resources where there is the greatest chance of success for couples.”


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However, it’s not just a wide age range of people who will be excluded from the treatment plan – the new funding also bars countless same-sex couples from use as any couple who uses a donor will not be eligible.

LGBT Ireland have dubbed the scheme “very disappointing” and called on the government to amend its provisions.

In a statement, Paula Fagan from LGBT Ireland said: “The decision to bar those who use a donor from the funding scheme means that all same-sex couples will be excluded. There is no justification for this.

“On the one hand, under the current provisions of the Children and Family Relationships Act (2015), female same-sex couples are required to undergo clinical conception to be jointly recognised as parents. On the other hand, the State is now saying that it won’t fund these required procedures under the terms of the new IVF/IUI funding scheme. This makes no sense.”

What’s more is that the scheme excludes any woman who has a BMI outside of the 18.5 kg/m2 – 30.0 kg/m2 range.

The use of BMI (Body Mass Index) as a measure of health has proven controversial in recent years, as it does not take into account muscle mass, body composition, and other crucial factors that may determine a person’s overall health.

Minister Donnelly has called this new funding plan “the first step”, so we can hope that in time the scheme will be extended to include people not covered by the above criteria.