Same-sex couple remortgage and sacrifice ‘heat and food’ for fertility treatments

Campaigners say women in same-sex relationships are having to remortgage their homes and sacrifice “eating and heating” to fund fertility treatments because the government has not delivered on its promise of equal access to fertility services.

Couples waiting for the government to remove the “extra burden” of same-sex fertility treatments are running out of time to create the family they want, as outlined in the Women’s Health Policy 2022.

Parents who want their children to have siblings have realized that this may no longer be an option because they are already deeply in debt from having a child.

Labor MP Kate Osborne told Yo Female same-sex couples face “financial infertility,” with some spending tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatments to create the families they want.

Laura-Rose Thorogood, founder of the LGBT Mummy charity, said: “People are selling, they’re moving home, they’re moving into rented accommodation, they’re falling into exponential debt – whatever Be it through credit cards, loans, or insurance policies with unbelievably high interest rates—desperately beginning their journey to their dream family.

“They have to put all those things aside while other people around them are moving up the property ladder and getting married.”

Mrs Thorogood, 37, who has four children with his wife Stacey, 40, has spent a total of £60,000 over 11 years and racked up huge debts which she is still paying off.

Her wife was pregnant with their latest child, who was just four weeks old.

Ms Thorogood said LGBT Mummy receives three to four calls a week from women who have set up crowdfunding pages “in desperation” to help pay for fertility treatments.

She said this had “increased significantly” in recent years due to the cost of living crisis, as couples had “no choice”.

Stacey is pregnant with the couple’s latest child, who is just four weeks old (Photo: Supplied)

Lyndsay Andrews said she and her wife, from Hampshire, had to pay for fertility treatments privately, costing them a total of £30,000.

“We had to borrow money from family, use credit cards and save money until we could afford the next treatment,” she told Yo.

“It took us four years to have our first child and another seven years after that to pay off all our debt,” Ms Andrews added.

LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall said it had received reports of families “sacrificing heat and food” and falling into huge debts to pay for fertility treatments themselves because they are not available on the NHS.

“We’ve heard countless stories from same-sex couples who went into tens of thousands of pounds in debt trying to fund their own fertility treatments, and how they were treated as second-class citizens in the postcode lottery of local rules,” said Stonewall external affairs director Rowe said Robbie de Santos.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) guidance states that NHS-funded IVF is only suitable for those who are “unprotected after two years of regular unprotected intercourse or 12 cycles of artificial insemination, six or more of which are intrauterine insemination.” Women who conceive”. The guidance is currently under review and will be updated in 2024.

Campaigners say this means heterosexual couples will only need to say they have been trying to conceive for two years to access NHS fertility treatment, while women in same-sex relationships will have to “prove” they cannot conceive through artificial insemination.

It is most commonly done through intrauterine insemination (IUI), where sperm is inserted directly into the woman’s uterus, but this must be done by a healthcare professional at a registered clinic and can be costly if done privately.

Health Secretary Maria Caulfield has expressed disappointment that commitments in the Women’s Health Strategy 2022 to remove the “extra burden” on same-sex couples have been delayed.

Speaking in parliament last week, she said equal access to fertility treatments was a “priority area” but admitted the rollout was taking longer than expected.

“In some parts of the country there is some resistance to some of the changes that the government wants to make,” Ms Caulfield said during a debate on the provision of IVF.

Currently, female same-sex couples in some parts of the UK must self-fund up to 12 rounds of IUI at a cost of up to £25,000, while other Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) fund 3 rounds.

Male couples cannot access NHS fertility funding at all because treatments requiring surrogacy are not eligible for funding in England.

The ICB has been asked to improve provisions for female same-sex couples and single women, but no additional funding has been provided.

Stakeholders said it was “naive” to expect international central banks to improve their policies without a national mandate or any additional funding, while also being asked to cut overall budgets.

Yo It is understood health ministers are drafting a letter to the IBC outlining their expectations, and NHS guidance will be published in the coming months.

Jarrow’s Labor Party Kate Osborne said LGBTQ+ couples faced a “postcode lottery” and had to wait for years and undergo up to 12 self-funded IUI cycles before IVF is available on the NHS.

“Financiers are a huge barrier to most people when they’re already struggling with the cost of living, paying bills, paying rent or mortgage,” she told us Yo.

“There’s still a lot of stigma,” said Ms. Osborne, who had two sons with her wife through fertility treatments.

She said it was common for women in relationships to be “asked why they want children” or to be mistaken for sisters at medical appointments.

“There’s a lot of stress both emotionally and financially,” she added.

Stonewall’s Mr de Santos called on the government to immediately improve family formation support.

He said: “The Scottish Government is continuing its work by not requiring same-sex female couples to self-fund artificial insemination (IUI) before they can access NHS support to resolve their infertility issues, and in some cases even for Male same-sex couples provide support to couples.

“At the same time, the UK government and health ministers are failing to take the issue seriously enough and implement a comprehensive women’s health strategy. Unless the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England empower integrated care councils to make changes, lesbian and bisexual Women in love will still have to face these unfair costs until they have access to NHS support.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Our Women’s Health Strategy for England sets out our ten-year ambition to promote health and wellbeing and improve the health and care system to listen to the voices of women and girls.

“The strategy contains a number of important changes and future ambitions to improve variation in access to NHS-funded maternity services, including improving same-sex access – which we remain committed to and expect to start this year.

“This week we announced that we will change the law to ensure that female same-sex couples have the same rights as men and women when trying to conceive.”

Same-sex couples living with non-communicable HIV will be able to have in vitro fertilization (IVF) at licensed clinics in the UK, ensuring equality for people living with HIV.

The government has also repealed an outdated law requiring same-sex couples who want to conceive through in vitro fertilization to be screened for infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C or rubella.

The test costs up to £1,000 and under current rules heterosexual couples are not required to undergo it.

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