A lesbian couple fearing they would have to ‘beg, borrow and steal’ because they weren’t entitled to help having a baby on the NHS spoke of the ‘LGBT fertility tax’ pressures on thousands of same-sex couples in England.
Cleo Fraser, 35, and his wife Sam Wain, 29, who live in Brighton, were forced to take an unconventional route to start a family after learning they were not entitled to a sperm donor in under NHS guidelines in their area.
Faced with paying ‘exorbitant’ £ 11,000 for private IVF or giving up on starting a family, Ms Fraser said I the couple participated in a fertility initiative advertised on Instagram by Fertility Help Hub.
The fertility center worked with The Agora Clinic in Brighton, which paid for the couple’s IVF as part of an initiative called Fertility Clinics Covid. Fertility Help Hub found that 49% of LGBT + couples give up starting a family due to financial barriers to conception.
Same-sex couples must prove that they have attempted to conceive up to twelve times before they are eligible for NHS treatment – which, unlike heterosexual couples, requires LGBT + couples to undergo many expensive artificial inseminations.
“At the end of last year we were told that if we wanted a child, we had to have one within the next twelve months,” Ms. Fraser said. I.
“It was tricky because even though we desperately wanted to start a family, we couldn’t afford to pay privately.
“We wanted to have reciprocal IVF, where my egg would be placed in my wife’s womb. It costs £ 8,000. Added to the cost of medicines, sperm donations and storage costs, it was £ 11,000 for a round.
“We entered an Instagram contest with a private clinic called Fertility Help Hub, which agreed to fund a round of IVF.”
The treatment was successful and Ms Wain is now three months pregnant with the couple’s first child.
“It was so lucky we won because otherwise we would have had to beg, borrow or steal for the chance to fulfill the lifelong dream of having a family,” added Ms. Fraser.
The couple wanted to share their story to highlight the grueling reality of same-sex couples who want to start a family, who are at the mercy of uneven NHS guidelines that differ from region to region.
While the couple were not entitled to any help with sperm donation in their area, same-sex couples are required to prove that they attempted to conceive through IVF or IUI up to twelve times before receiving treatment. fertility program on the NHS, racking up costs of at least £ 30,000 in parts of England.
What is the LGBT fertility tax?
The LGBT fertility tax, sometimes referred to as the “gay fertility tax,” refers to the rising costs that same-sex couples face when trying to have a baby.
Couples face a lottery of postcodes when it comes to getting help from the NHS, with different rules depending on the clinical commissioning group that operates in this area.
Cis heterosexual couples must prove that they have tried for a baby for two years before they can receive IVF or IUI treatment.
This is much less easy to do if you are a lesbian or bi woman in a same-sex relationship. Even if they cannot conceive naturally, couples must prove that they have tried up to twelve times to get pregnant before receiving fertility treatment on the NHS.
A round of artificial insemination costs up to £ 11,000 per attempt, leading the BPAS to say the complex web of rules has created a ‘two tier system of care’ where ‘only wealthy patients can access fertility treatment funded by the NHS “.
“I grew up under Article 28, so no one was talking about gay women like me. My only dream was to one day be able to love having a family, ”said Ms. Fraser. “We just want to have a child like a lot of other couples.
“This battle to conceive as a same-sex couple puts relationships under so much debt and strain. Some relationships break down because of the financial, mental and physical toll.
“I have endometriosis, and it’s hard to know we would have had any help on the NHS if I hadn’t been in a gay relationship.”
A couple have launched legal action against the NHS after they racked up £ 8,000 in IVF costs.
Megan Bacon-Evans, 34, and his wife Whitney, 33, announced Monday that they will take legal action against the Frimley clinical commissioning group.
The married couple, who live in Windsor, Berkshire, said it was discriminatory that the only option for lesbian and bi couples to demonstrate fertility issues was to pay privately for multiple rounds of artificial insemination.
They will bring the case under the Equality Act and Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, in what could become a major test of the NHS treatment of LGBT + families.
If they win, the landmark test case could pave the way for a change in fertility rules for same-sex couples across England.
They will say that they are penalized, undergo long and expensive cycles of fertility treatments because of their sexuality. They also launched a £ 10,000 fundraiser to cover potential legal fees and called for support from the LGBT + community.
Ms Bacon-Evans said the Guardian: “We are doing this for every LGBT + couple who has had to give up their hopes and dreams of starting a family.
“It is time for discrimination to end and for there to be equal treatment with heterosexual couples in the health care system. “
“Our research found that same-sex female couples and single women are disproportionately affected by policies that require them to self-fund expensive and less effective artificial insemination, in some cases for at least 2 years, before becoming eligible for funded IVF. Said Marta Jansa Perez of BPAS Fertility, who supports the legal case. I.
“These restrictions amount to a tax on LGBT + families, and the impact can be truly devastating.
“A same-sex couple told us that their experience of trying to access NHS-funded fertility treatment made them, for the first time in their lives, feel” deeply sad at being gay. ” The need for reform is urgent.
“We are proud to support Whitney and Megan in their fight for fertility equality, and we applaud their courage in publicly sharing such a personal fight.”
Eloise Stonborough of Stonewall said I these trips “show how the roads to NHS-funded fertility services are interrupted for LGBTQ + people in England today.”
She added: “Where you live and who you love shouldn’t determine whether you can start a family, but the current system amounts to an expensive postcode lottery, creating financial and practical barriers that disproportionately affect LGBTQ + people, especially lesbians and bi women, for many these barriers are insurmountable.
“Stonewall is proud to support the battle of Whitney and Megan so that they can start a family on the same footing as any other loving couple.
“We are therefore urging the UK government to commit to providing equitable access to fertility services for LGBTQ + people, as part of their commitment to the LGBT Year of Action. “
In Scotland and Wales, same-sex female couples are not required to fund treatment themselves in order to be of quality for NHS care. Northern Ireland requires couples to self-finance four rounds of artificial insemination.
Male gay couples with children through altruistic surrogacy cannot access NHS fertility treatment anywhere in England, despite being in Scotland.
I has contacted NHS England for comment.