Update on Fertility Equality - We did it!

Female Same-Sex Couples are to receive Fertility Treatments on the NHS from April 2023!

The Government's announces plans to fund fertility treatments for female same-sex couples in the Women's Health Strategy.

Among the many amazing plans put forward in the Government's Women’s Health Strategy in July 2022, it includes plans to remove additional barriers to accessing fertility treatments for female same-sex couples.

The stated aims of the strategy include:

  • Remove additional barriers to IVF for female same-sex couples. There will no longer be a requirement for them to pay for artificial insemination to prove their fertility status, and NHS treatment for female same-sex couples will start with 6 cycles of artificial insemination, prior to accessing IVF services if necessary.

  • Improve transparency on provision and availability of IVF so prospective parents can see how their local area performs to tackle the “postcode lottery” in access to IVF treatment.  

This brings huge win for LGBTQ+ Families! Currently, the majority of CCG's require same-sex female couples (and single women) to self-fund 6-12 rounds of artificial insemination (intra-uterine insemination, IUI) before being entitled to IVF on the NHS. This forces female same-sex couples to pay tens of thousands of pounds in artificial inseminations in expensive private clinics to prove that they are infertile before they are eligible for any fertility treatment on the NHS. However, cis heterosexual couples can qualify for IVF on the NHS if they have not become pregnant after two years of unprotected sex, which has its emotional toll but with no financial cost. This financial barrier on the LGBTQ+ community pushes some into debt and others into dangerous situations, or giving up on being able to create a family at all.

If you weren't aware, we have been campaigning for Fertility Equality since 2020 and launched a judicial review legal challenge against our local NHS health board (Frimley ICB) in October 2021 on the basis that the current IVF policy discriminated against lesbian couples. We also spoke in Parliament and contributed to the LGBT+ Commission Inquiry report.

Frimley ICB (formerly known as Frimley Clinical Commissioning Group) currently requires same-sex couples seeking one cycle of NHS funded IVF treatment to undergo 12 cycles of intra-uterine insemination (IUI) at their own cost, with six of those being carried out in a clinical setting.

The legal case is currently ongoing but it is hoped that the new government strategy will prompt a change to the Frimley ICB policy. 

When will this be implemented?

We're often receiving messages and being asked When will this be implemented and we wish we knew more! However the good news is that the Government has announced that they intend for this change to be rolled out from April 2023. In a statement to reporter Ellie Costello, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social care said:

"This policy change means same-sex female couples can access NHS-funded fertility services in a more equitable way. We intent this change to take effect from April 2023".

While this is a positive step, there are many unanswered questions and also a long way to go until equality for all is achieved.

This post will be updated of any further developments as well as over on our online publication, The Femme Edition

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