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06/07/2010

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Personally, I believe that Ireland needed a panel composed of bioethicists, sociologists, doctors, performing basic researchers and professionals in public policy again on sensitive issues of reproductive medicine and research on embryos, and then make recommendations on areas of medicine and science on Should the government legislate. I also personally believe that the human embryo is a valuable and worthy of deep respect, because of its huge potential and that the existence and status of moral pair should rest Beliefs whom it Came From.

Reply to Amy Demma -

I would like to address your question of whether I feel that "easier (financial) access to IVF in the U.K. may entice some patients to sign-up who may not have otherwise done so?"

The answer is "no." My observation is that patients who qualify for NHS care do not think of medical treatment of any kind as being “free.” They see it as something for which they are taxed and to which they are entitled. However, the system delivering that care is highly regulated. It is not available for unnecessary procedures, like cosmetic surgery, unless the patient’s enjoyment of, and functioning in, life would be compromised if they did not have corrective surgery. There are many grey areas, as elective surgery for varicose veins, breast reduction, and gastric bands increases. As you may expect, there is controversy regarding procedures like IVF; some UK residents believing that parenting is luck-of-the-draw and not something to which we are all entitled. It's still a hotly debated issue, mostly by people who object to their taxes paying for what they see as someone else's lifestyle choice: parenting.

Additionally, not everyone qualifies for fertility treatment such as IVF. If your General Practitioner (GP) decides to refer you for specialist diagnosis or care, you can do so under the NHS or privately, the latter for payment directly or through an insurer. You may not be referred at all, unless you are between the ages of 23 and 39 and have no children already. The important factor here is age, because NHS statistics have shown that this group is most likely to benefit. However, a woman could be disadvantaged by a "postcode lottery," in which the local Primary Care Trust applies its own criteria, such as the funds they have available or health factors such as obesity, or refusal to stop drinking or smoking, habits which could lessen the chance for the IVF to be successful. Additionally, I believe that there is a limit imposed of 3 IVF cycles. If you are 39 and had a failed IVF cycle, you may not get another chance. There are plenty of women who have not been offered IVF, thus the recent trend of going abroad to less regulated and less expensive countries like India for treatment. It doesn’t look good. Media attention and the increasing demand for fertility treatment has forced the NHS to be generous and more even-handed in its supply.

I have not yet met anyone in the UK who jumped at the chance to have any medical treatment just because they weren't paying for it out of pocket. First of all, there are those bureaucratic hoops to jump through. Secondly, waiting lists are long, so you might have to wait several months to be assigned a specialist and up to a year to have treatment commence, instead of a few weeks to get a private appointment. The side effects of fertility treatment are no walk in the park, whether paid for or provided. Decision-making by a couple is just as difficult; treatment just as stressful.

I have no information breaking down the proportion of the 80+ abortions that resulted from IVF on the NHS and those whose IVF was paid for privately. However, regarding fertility treatment generally, I very much doubt that the decision to undergo IVF in the UK is approached with less gravity because it is free.

Lisa

Lisa,

Thank you for writing such an informative blog, I am just delighted to learn that The AFA has a London correspondent. Having undergone several IVFs myself and therefore understanding not only professionally but personally the heartache and general toll the process takes on every patient, I am wondering what your thoughts may be on how the differential in costs of IVF in the U.K. and here in the states may impact whether or not one would choose to undergo the process w/out being fully committed. When in London meeting with clients last year, I learned that IVF is covered under the U.K. socialized medicine program (pardon me for botching the reference to the govn't medical program) and costs less than pennies on the U.S. dollar compared to what most patients pay over here. While I remain cynical about the stats relied on in the article of discussion and while I too am so very concerned about how this may be used to support an anti-ART agenda, do you feel that easier (financial) access to IVF in the U.K. may entice some patients to sign-up who may not have otherwise done so?

Many thanks.

Reply to Lisa Ansell:

I believe that you and I interpreted Professor William Ledger's comment differently. I agree with what I think he meant, which was that it is tragic that a woman who wanted a baby so much that she sought, and successfully underwent, IVF would find herself subsequently in a situation in which she deemed it necessary to abort her baby.

I would have welcomed a breakdown of the reasons that these 80+ abortions were carried out, in order to better understand, not judge. It's likely that they were not available, but in their absence the headlines and the suggestion that the reasons were social in nature, can potentially cause harm in the form of uninformed, public speculation. As a result, I do think that Ms Roger's article, and particularly the headline, was inflammatory.

http://deeplyflawedbuttrying.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/response-from-professor-william-ledger-re-article-in-the-times/ THis blog post is the response I got from Professor Bill Ledger, who was cited in the article.

THis was the post I wrote in response to the original post. Absolutely appalling piece of 'journalism'.

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