Funding guidelines for IVF treatment to be announced in December
State funding guidelines for fertility treatment for couples who cannot afford treatment will be available by the end of the year.
This will include the criteria by which a person or a couple can receive financial assistance towards their IVF treatment.
This is new ground for the government as there is no public system in place yet to allow for IVF treatment — however, it is estimated that one in six couples will experience infertility in Ireland.
Minister for Health Simon Harris will look towards established international public funding models such as those in the UK and Europe for guidance.
Calls have already been made to ensure the scheme is not limited to persons with a medical card, including from Kildare South TD Fiona O'Loughlin.
“I strongly believe that financial support should not be limited just to those on medical cards, many of the 'coping classes' who require IVF find themselves in a very difficult position financially and require financial support too,” said Deputy O'Loughlin.
“We all have friends and family members who have gone through gruelling IVF cycles and removing some of the financial strain associated with the process would be very beneficial. The recent TV series The Babymakers featured two couples from Newbridge and I think it gave viewers a real insight into how emotionally fraught and expensive IVF is for people.”
A statement from the Department for Health to the Leinster Leader in relation to the issue of a public funding model said “ the Minister for Health intends to revert to Government by the end of this year with proposals for a potential model of public funding for AHR treatment for the Government's consideration and decision.
“As such no specific decision has been made at this time in relation the parameters of any potential public funding model, including what eligibility criteria may be included.”
Meanwhile, in terms of the new legislation required, it stated that it is needed to protect, promote and ensure the health and safety of parents, and children born as a result of AHR treatment, as well as other parties who may be involved such as donors and surrogates.
Consideration of the welfare and best interests of children born through AHR is a key principle underpinning the Scheme.
This will include the provision of a Assisted Human Reproduction Regulatory Authority as a dedicated, independent body to oversee this sector.
It will ensure that AHR practices and related areas of research are conducted in a more consistent and standardised way. It will outline the conditions relating to the donation of gametes (sperm cells) and embryos for use in AHR treatment by others and or for use in research. And the specific conditions under which surrogacy in Ireland will be permitted, including a requirement for all surrogacy agreements to be pre-authorised by the AHR Regulatory Authority.
The scheme also sets out a court-based mechanism through which the parentage of a child born through surrogacy may be transferred from the surrogate to the intending parent(s).
It will also specify the conditions under which research involving embryos, embryonic stem cells and induced stem cells may be permitted, subject to obtaining a licence from the AHR Regulatory Authority.