The introduction of publicly-funded Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) treatment from September is hugely encouraging to couples trying to conceive, a local TD and Senator said, and a significant first step in State support. “There are so many couples who are waiting to start their family and for many of them access to fertility care is just not affordable. Now, many couples will be able to avail of access to free IVF through a State supported scheme,” said Deputy Emer Higgins.
“Eligible couples will be able to avail of this new scheme, hopefully, from September. So many constituents of mine come to me regularly seeking support and I hope this means they’ll be able to realise their dream of starting a family soon,” continued Higgins.
Eligible patients who have been referred by their GP to a Regional Fertility Hub will be entitled to 1 full IVF/ICSI Cycle, IUI Procedures – up to 3 for patients who have been clinically determined.and Storage – 2 years’ storage of remaining embryos following successful completion of a cycle.
Senator Mary Seery-Kearney said “This much-needed financial support will be a relief to many couples for whom the financial burden of IVF is prohibitively expensive. I am particularly pleased that the State is covering the cost of embryo storage for two years post cycle, as one IVF cycle can result in embryos that can possibly be utilised at a future date.”
The eligibility criteria for couples wishing to avail of treatment was developed following extensive clinical consideration and expert consultation and takes into account a range of data from applicants, including Medical Indication for IVF or IUI, Age Limits, No. of Existing Children, No. of Previous IVF Cycles and BMI.
Deputy Emer Higgins said “The criteria for application to the scheme include a BMI range for the woman’s weight may be a challenge for those whose infertility is contributed to by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is just as prevalent as endometriosis and one of the symptoms for some women is the propensity to put on weight easily. More research needs to be done to understand this illness and to advocate for sufferers.
“The Minister has signalled that when funding is provided in the future under the public fertility treatment plans, donor gametes will then be covered and I also welcome this. Under this new treatment plan, opposite couples where the infertility is due to a lack of sperm or eggs and same sex female couples are excluded and I would like to see this being addressed. “It also excludes couples where one has a genetic condition that they are advised not to proceed with their own gametes in the interests of the health of the baby. I would hope that any expansion of this treatment plan would cater for these groups, as well as those pursuing surrogacy – this support must be extended to all hoping to become parents,” she added.
Senator Mary Seery-Kearney continued: “I am expecting the Minister for Health to outline the provision for the Assisted Human Reproduction Regulatory Authority shortly – the establishment of which will pave the way to additional fertility services. “Crucially this progress is dependent on amendments to the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill, which has been paused at committee stage in the Dáil to accommodate the inclusion of future international surrogacy and provisions for the dealing with existing family life long legal relations between parents and children born via surrogacy both domestically and internationally. I am hopeful that this second announcement is coming before the end of September.
“This news is welcome for so many couples who have been on a long and often lonely road to parenthood. This is a very significant milestone and I look forward to building on this to support the many hopeful and deserving people out there who wish to become parents.”