The news follows as Megan and Whitney Bacon-Evans took legal action against NHS Frimley in 2021, citing unjust costs facing same-sex couples
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE BY ZACHARY DRUCKER/THE GENDER SPECTRUM COLLECTION
Today, LGBTQI charity Stonewall launches its online tool to highlight areas with either costly or patchy healthcare for same-sex couples accessing IVF. The tool finds that LGBTQI people face an unjust postcode lottery when utilising fertility care.
The charity cites that as many as four in five, equating to 80%, of clinical commissioning groups require same-sex couples to privately fund the beginning of their fertility journey. By contrast, opposite sex couples often receive a standardised number of free trials of IVF before payment is introduced: a mere 13% of clinical commissioning groups have policies wherein same-sex couples do not have to pay anything before accessing NHS care. Under these policies, six rounds of intrauterine insemination will be provided free of cost before further NHS-funded IVF is provided. Stonewall cites that the most unequal constituency in the country is Skipton and Ripon, where same-sex couples are liable to costs of up to £25,000 for 21 cycles of artificial insemination.
Lesbian influencers Megan and Whitney Bacon-Evans have pointed to the fundamental inequalities of many IVF policies in place in many NHS Trusts throughout the UK, launching legal action against NHS Frimley in 2021. Citing unjust costs for same-sex couples accessing IVF, the couple have, to date, spent £8000 on donor sperm and compulsory pre-insemination tests.
“We’re doing this for every LGBTQ+ couple who had to give up on their hopes and dreams of creating a family. If found to be unlawful, this could positively impact the tens of thousands of LGBTQ+ people embarking on their path to parenthood now and in the future to come. It is time for discrimination to end and for there to be equal treatment with heterosexual couples in the healthcare system”, stated the couple.
CEO at Stonewall, Nancy Kelley, states: “Access to fertility services should not be dictated by where you live or who you love but our new tool highlights that LGBTQ+ people face a discriminatory postcode lottery when trying to access NHS fertility services. It’s outrageous that, in some areas, LGBTQ+ couples trying to start a family using IVF have to pay £25,000 more than their neighbours to access vital fertility services. For many, this extra financial burden is insurmountable.
It’s vital that NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) and the Government now commit to providing equal access to fertility services for all. Everyone who wants to start a loving family should have the chance to, and LGBTQ+ couples are no exception”.
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