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Sinead Ryan: Taxpayers' €2.5m bill for woman's IVF court battle is outrageous, but don't blame her

All you taxpayers out there are no doubt delighted that your hard-earned but dwindling euro are probably going to be wasted yet again picking up unnecessary court costs caused by the inability of our elected representatives to legislate properly or, as you might put it, do their job.

This time it is to the tune of €2.5m -- the estimated costs of the long-running saga of the Roche IVF case. Normally someone who takes a case shoulders the risk of paying for it, but in exceptional circumstances where it is deemed an issue of national importance, the State can be stuck with the bill.

Mary Roche's desire to be implanted with the embryo of her estranged husband in this most middle-class of cases, involved the private Sims clinic, a woman on the wrong side of 40 and a man who didn't want another baby. She lost -- but the resulting mess is unseemly and entirely unnecessary. Ms Roche was forced to take this action because of a complete lack of legislation regarding IVF -- as pointed out by her barrister to the court.

This isn't a case of technology moving faster than laws can keep up -- the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, is now 31 and a mother herself.

No, this is about successive governments' refusal to even have a conversation about IVF lest it bring up the 'A' word again. They would prefer us, the taxpayer, to pick up the €2.5m bill for dithering than legislate on the issue.

The Roche case is only one. There will be others. The recession might focus our attention on the costs of this case, but also consider that IVF clinics are privately run. Each cycle costs over €5,000 and so is available only to the wealthy. What happens when one of them, through no fault of their own, goes bust?

Who will become the adoptive minders of the embryos in cold storage? Will we also pick up the bill for that? Will a receiver who unwittingly unplugs an IVF storage device be guilty of manslaughter? We can't even decide what an embryo is, never mind what should become of it. This is disgraceful.

Perhaps the Supreme Court, in determining costs, will also make an order forcing a law on the issue for future cases.