Fertility Inequality and the LGBTQ+ Community

Written by Dunya Simões 

As well as being a time for celebration and honouring the LGBTQ+ community, Pride month also serves to highlight the issues faced by our queer peers. One of these issues is the fertility inequality in the LGBTQ+ community. It may surprise you that a whopping 93% of the LGBTQ+ community believe that society does not offer them equal fertility rights.  

These findings originate from a survey conducted by the Fertility Help Hub, who also found that another whopping 93% of LGBTQ+ people have little to no awareness of their fight for fertility. The range of advancements in reproductive technology does not avert the hardships LGBTQ+ parents-to-be face in their journey.  

Fertility treatments are already a difficult process as it is. In the UK, the process continues to be delayed for anything up to two years. Those in heterosexual relationships are required to try to conceive for two to three years before being eligible for NHS funding for IVF.  

Meanwhile, some Clinical Commissioning Groups ask that LGBTQ+ partnerships along with single women have a minimum of six rounds of intrauterine insemination (otherwise known as donor insemination) through a private fertility clinic before being considered to receive NHS funding for solely one round of IVF. The average cost of insemination can range anywhere between £700 to £1,600 and NHS funding for IVF is not guaranteed. If the one NHS-sponsored IVF round proves to be unsuccessful, couples are forced to return to private treatment and pay up to £5,000 or more for each round.  

Unsurprisingly, the staggering financial cost deters many LGBTQ+ people to actualise their families into reality. The survey found that 49% of the respondents stated the costs of private treatment as the reason for them not pursuing their dream of starting a family. It is unjust that members of the LGBTQ+ community are financially exploited in this industry and must break their bank to receive what is supposedly life’s ‘greatest joy’.  

The pandemic has been an additional obstacle for many of the survey’s participants on their already strenuous journey to parenthood. Nicole Powell and her partner have decided against fertility treatment due to insufficient funds. The pandemic and the losing of their jobs as well as financial trouble over the years has meant that the couple have been unable to save for the process.  In other words, they are denied their right of starting a family because of their financial status.  

Frankly, it is shameful that we, as a society, continue to not provide all LGBTQ+ people viable alternatives to parenthood. While we may have succeeded in creating various fertility technology for queer parents, as with many things in our society, we remain on gatekeeping it for the upper classes. Not to mention how much more facilitated it is for heterosexual couples to receive IVF versus LGBTQ+ couples – sexual orientation should not be a barrier in creating a family.  

To learn more on the issue of fertility inequality, please visit https://www.fertilityhelphub.com/.  

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash. No changes have been made to this image.
 

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