Many people dream of becoming a parent; there is no more important job in the world than raising a child. Unfortunately many people struggle to conceive and have difficult decisions to make about fertility treatment. For members of the LGBT community the quest to become a parent is a minefield.
My wife and I have always wanted to be parents and, in August 2016, we entered the process with a visit to our GP. We knew that my wife would carry our first child; a referral to a fertility clinic, followed by blood tests and scans, showed that my wife should have no problems conceiving. It was then that we were told that we would need to pay for our treatment. The implication was that my wife could fall pregnant ‘naturally’ therefore it was at this point that NHS support ended and we entered into the world of private fertility treatment.
Our next appointment at the clinic ended with us taking home a range of forms and a price list which indicated what we would need to pay for different aspects of our treatment. The NHS requires heterosexual couples to be trying for two years before they could be considered for fertility treatment; obviously same sex couples are unable to do this. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) have produced guidance which aims to create a comparable situation. They suggest that female same-sex couples try to conceive six times using artificial insemination, funded by themselves, before they would be considered for NHS-funded fertility treatment.
‘How much will it cost?’ I hear you ask. Here is a complete breakdown of our costs:
Blood tests – £700 (a one off cost at the start of treatment)
Sperm reservation fee £1000 (this reserves us five vials of our donor sperm)
Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) package – £850 (per round of treatment)
Sperm preparation – £600 (per round of treatment)
IUI drugs package – £300 (per round of treatment)
It we have to have all six round of IUI treatment that will be a minimum spend of £12,200 before we are even considered for NHS support.
My wife and I are in the fortunate position where we are able to afford to take on the debt that could be associated with this. However, this does not lessen the blow of the financial and emotional burden. Any couple who decides to try for a child will go through a range of emotions during the process. Adding a financial complication into that is extremely difficult. A considerable amount of money rides on each go, coupled with the potential emotional strain and disappointment. It seems unfair that many lesbian couples will have their chances of becoming parents determined by financial constraints. For gay male couples it would be a far more difficult process. Many same sex couples, who will make excellent parents, are having to make difficult decisions, forgo becoming a parent or undertake huge financial costs.