Thursday 14 December 2017

State is to help couples who are unable to conceive to pay for IVF

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Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Couples struggling with fertility are set to receive state funding to help them access fertility treatments under new proposals.

In the first of two moves to address more roundly the issue of fertility for Irish couples Health Minister Simon Harris will today ask Cabinet to approve the drafting of a bill to enable people in need of fertility treatment to access these services.

These heads will go to the Oireachtas Health Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny.

One in six couples will struggle with infertility but there is little regulation in this area of Assisted Human Reproduction, including IVF.

Ireland remains one of the only countries in Europe that has not introduced legislation.  

It is believed commercial surrogacy and the payment for egg, sperm or embryo donors will be outlawed.

Meanwhile by the end of this year, the Minister for Health will  bring proposals to government for State funding for fertility treatment for couples who could not otherwise afford treatment.

It is expected that the Government will commit to funding IVF treatments for couples unable to conceive from 2019.

Separately extra maternity benefits are to be afforded to mothers of premature babies under plans to be approved by ministers today.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty will bring a memo to Cabinet outlining that maternity benefit will now be accessible for the period of time between the actual birth of a baby and when the statutory leave would have commenced two weeks before the due date.

Currently maternity leave is 26 week. The additional leave and benefit will be added at the end of the 26 week period.

There are approximately 4,500 premature births annually.

The idea was proposed by the Green Party last April and following analysis Ms Doherty has decided to include the measure in the Social Welfare Budget Bill.

In April, the government did not oppose this proposal from the Green Party and following analysis has decided to move forward with its introduction.

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