State-sponsored fertility treatments for British singles

Britain's National Health Service begins offering free fertility treatments, including sperm donation and IVF.

By Cecelie S. Berry
March 8, 2006 2:48AM (UTC)
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Broadsheet recently referred readers to a story about 11 American mothers who bonded over their shared sperm donor. If the mothers had been English, they might have had further cause for celebration, being eligible for government-funded sperm donation. A new story from the Independent reports that women "single and desperate for a baby," in their 30s and 40s, are now allowed free fertility treatment by the National Health Service, including sperm donation and in vitro fertilization. Since the announcement, public interest has been immense. Oxford Fertility Unit, which began offering private treatment to single women four years ago, has seen inquiries concerning fertility treatments from financially secure single women quadruple.

Despite the ongoing cultural debate over what kind of family is best for children, the new policy is supported by findings that single mothers and their children fare just as well as those in two-parent households. The NHS move came as hospitals and clinics began worrying that they could face discrimination claims for denying single women fertility-related treatments.


Natasha Zuka, 35, a software developer, tells the Independent that while she is "considering being inseminated," she has some reservations about the new NHS policy. Although she believes "that all women should have the option of accessing some NHS funding," she worries that "the consultation for donor insemination shouldn't be like a routine check-up."

Choosing to become a mother "is a very tough decision," said Zuka, "and shouldn't be made 'on the fly.'"

Cecelie S. Berry

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