Women who need IVF in order to conceive a child are being denied it from as young as 34 in some areas of the UK because of their age, even though government guidelines stipulate that it be available free up until the age of 42.
In the UK, fertility treatments including IVF have been available since 2004 through the National Health Service (NHS), a tax-funded institution which ensures critical UK healthcare is free at the point of delivery. But the NHS is massively under-funded, meaning local authorities have had to decide which non life-saving treatments to cut.
Guidelines say that women under the age of 40 should be offered three complete cycles of IVF for free, with one cycle offered for women from 40 to 42. But some local authorities have stopped offering IVF completely and others have begun instituting an age cut-off for women. The practice, revealed by a BBC investigation, surprised many would-be mothers who didn’t realize there was any such rule until they went for treatment. Since the decisions vary geographically, they arbitrarily tie women’s fertility to where they live.