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Fertility treatment atlas reveals inequalities in access across Europe
20 December 2021 – by Paige Mumford

New research has ranked 43 European countries based on fertility policies and accessibility of treatments, revealing a mix of policies across Europe.

The European Atlas of Fertility Treatment Policies was launched by Fertility Europe, a European organisation encompassing 25 countries, in collaboration with the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights. The atlas scored each country, with 100 percent classified as ‚a perfect country‘, with good regulation, wide availability of various fertility treatments to diverse family types, public funding for treatments, and an emphasis on the patient perspective.

Anita Fincham, manager of Fertility Europe and co-author on the study, said: ‚Every country deserves to be a perfect country with good regulations granting equal, safe and efficient access to fertility treatment to all who need it.‘

Key findings of the atlas included that 38 countries had laws regulating assisted reproduction and availability of fertility treatments seemed to favour heterosexual couples. Insemination with donor sperm was provided to heterosexual couples in 41 countries, to single women in only 30 countries, and to female-only couples in just 19 countries. Regarding public funding for up to six cycles of IVF, most countries (35) had partial funding, while only three countries had full funding and six countries had absolutely no funding at all.

The countries with the highest score (86 percent) were Belgium, Israel, and the Netherlands. Among the upper-middle in rankings, the UK scored 75 percent, although this score did not differentiate between the countries making up the UK where provision of state-funded IVF varies.

Countries with the lowest scores were Albania (13 percent), Armenia (26), Poland (27), and Ireland (27). As one of the lowest scorers on the atlas, categorised as ‚exceptionally poor,‘ Ireland had no assisted reproduction laws and no public funding for fertility treatments. According to the Irish Examiner, a single round of IVF can cost €5,000 in Ireland, with associated costs sometimes increasing the price beyond €10,000.

Fine Gael MEP Frances Fitzgerald said: ‚The vast majority of EU countries fund a number of IVF sessions, whereas Ireland currently funds none… Irish couples and families need access to such services and treatments without delay‘.

Based on the atlas results, the researchers made a call to policymakers with five key requests: to recognise a universal right to have a child across the EU; ensure equal access to fertility treatments; provide public funding for these treatments; encourage the public sector to provide better information on fertility issues, and try to remove the stigma surrounding infertility.

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