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IVF law change to benefit couples with fertility issues

  • Same sex couples with non-transmissible HIV will also be able to undertake IVF in UK-licensed clinics, ensuring equality for those living with HIV
  • Government continues to deliver more accessible fertility services and improve opportunities for same-sex couples

Hundreds of couples hoping to become parents but going through the distress of fertility issues will have their chances improved, as the government announces two significant law changes to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) provision in the UK.

Currently, female same-sex couples hoping to conceive via reciprocal IVF must first go through screening for infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or rubella. This screening can cost up to ÂŁ1,000 whereas under current rules, heterosexual couples do not need to undergo this screening.

The government is scrapping this outdated law to ensure female same-sex couples have the same rights as a man and woman when trying to conceive.

The law will also change to cover same sex couples so that  where one or both partners have HIV but have an undetectable viral load (meaning the level of HIV virus in the body is low enough to not be detected by a test), they can now access IVF treatment. This will also include known sperm or egg cell donation to friends or relatives.

Health Minister Maria Caulfield said:

Millions of couples dream of the joy of parenthood and bringing life into the world. But for many, that joy turns to unimaginable pain as they experience the distress of fertility issues.

That’s why we’re changing the law, so it works for everyone and supports as many people as possible to conceive.

Our flagship Women’s Health Strategy is committed to improving access to IVF and we’ll continue working to ensure as many people as possible can access this vital support.

Dr Catherine Hill, Fertility Network UK’s Head of Policy & Public Affairs said:

As the national charity, Fertility Network UK welcomes this change in fertility legislation which will remove an inequality between how women in same-sex couples are treated when donating an egg to their partner as part of reciprocal IVF, and how heterosexual couples undergoing fertility treatment are treated.

This legislative change, when enacted, will also be a step forward in removing the massive financial barriers facing female same-sex couples hoping to become parents via fertility services.

The move will benefit hundreds of couples, including same sex male couples in a surrogacy, female same-sex couples planning shared motherhood, and those seeking known donation from a friend or relative with HIV. 

The Minister for Women’s Health, Maria Caulfield, announced the government’s intention to change these laws during a general debate on IVF provision in Westminster Hall.

The government also recently announced moves to ensure greater IVF transparency in England through an accessible new tool on GOV.UK to allow people to look up information about NHS-funded IVF treatment in their area.

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