Reproductive rights where conditions apply: an analysis of discriminatory practice in funding criteria against would-be parents seeking funded fertility treatment in England
Access to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) funding in England is limited by a range of local criteria set out historically by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) (now superseded by Integrated Care Boards (ICBs)). Many of these criteria discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation, relationship status and existing family structure. Contrary to increasing rates of IVF treatment across the UK, NHS funding for IVF treatment has decreased, in some cases rapidly, across most areas of England. This article reviews the eligibility criteria previously developed by CCGs and critically examines three major discrepancies in entitlement to funding: (i) the postcode lottery; (ii) restrictions placed upon lesbians and single women; and (iii) existing family structures as less deserving of funding. Inconsistencies in IVF funding are framed within broader discussions of discrimination and inequality within fertility funding. Recommendations for social and political change are made, alongside areas for future research engagement.