IVF too pricey when we don’t need more babies
IT WAS recently revealed that local NHS cuts have forced 13 areas of England to restrict or altogether stop offering IVF this year. This is not new – The Independent reported in 2015 that two Clinical Commissioning Groups in Essex had stopped funding the treatment as they couldn’t afford it.
The idea that access to such services should be contingent on living in the right catchment area is abhorrent, but the fact that local NHS bosses are resorting to this measure raises a bigger question – why is the NHS funding IVF at all?
A nationalised health service should exist to keep us healthy, both physically and mentally, as individuals and as a society, regardless of class, income, race or creed.
My heart goes out to those who wish to conceive naturally and are unable to do so, but there’s no justification for using public funds to pay for IVF treatment just because it will make some people feel more fulfilled.
There are reports of patients dying in A&E while waiting hours to be seen, delays for cancer screening results due to a lack of staff, and hospitals are planning to cut the number of potentially life-saving operations they perform on patients with heart conditions due to their cost. And then there are all the vital services the NHS won’t even consider fully funding, such as eye tests, dental treatment, air ambulances, prescriptions and at-home care.
IVF is an extortionately expensive – and often ineffective – process which serves only to fulfil people’s whimsical obsessions with baby-making, and puts even more long-term strain on the NHS: women who get pregnant via IVF have a higher risk of ectopic pregnancies and are more likely to become pregnant with twins or triplets, which in turn increases the risk of miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, anaemia and the need for a caesarian section, which involves further potential complications.
Were we to live in a society with a desperate need for more babies, this might be justifiable, but as it is we’re seeing a huge crisis of overpopulation, which is depleting our natural resources faster than ever. By all accounts, there’s nothing an individual can do to lower their carbon footprint more than not having children, and the UN projects an unmanageable population of 9.6 billion by 2050.
Government data showed that in 2016 there were over 70 000 children in the UK who were in the care of local authorities – in other words, tens of thousands of children need a home.
Instead of making adoption and fostering accessible (and more financially viable for most people), we’re pushing women towards IVF, a treatment which costs thousands of pounds and has a relatively small success rate – 32% for women under the age of 35 and 20% for those aged 38 to 39.
Women are already told throughout their lives that their primary role and responsibility is to procreate. Wanting to have biological children is considered the default setting, and women who don’t feel this way are patronised and coerced into changing their minds. Growing a foetus inside a womb is considered a woman’s biggest achievement, pushing a human out of you is supposed to be the happiest day of your life and fulfilment and happiness is supposed to come to us in the form of a sea of dirty nappies, colic, fish finger dinners and school runs.
It’s outrageous that we’re using government money to reinforce the idea that giving birth is as vital a part of a healthy life as getting your appendix out if it’s infected. Moreover, we can’t afford it anymore.