Assisted human reproduction: ‘Poorly drafted’ fertility law will ‘effectively prevent women from freezing their eggs’, clinic boss warns

A new law could inadvertently prevent women from freezing their eggs, a leading fertility doctor says.

Professor Mary Wingfield, clinical director at Merrion Fertility Clinic, said a forthcoming law regulating assisted human reproduction for the first time needs to be changed.

Successive governments have promised to regulate private fertility clinics and make some treatments like IVF available in public health.

The previous government first agreed in 2017 to draft a landmark law on assisted human reproduction. However, the law was only introduced this year and is still on its way through the Dáil.

Prof Wingfield warned that the law as it stands would prevent women from freezing their eggs. Currently, the legislation states that fertility clinics should not offer assisted human reproductive treatments to a woman unless she is “unlikely likely to conceive or deliver a child without such treatment.”

Prof Wingfield said this is discriminatory towards women who may be fertile but still need treatment when their partner is not.

She said it would also effectively ban egg freezing, a treatment often used by women who may be fertile but have not yet tried to conceive.

“So if you take a woman who is 28 or 29 years old and is far from ready to start a family but wants to freeze her eggs, she could be very fertile. She doesn’t know until she tries if she can conceive or not, so she doesn’t fall into that category,” Prof Wingfield said.

“Similarly, a woman might have a partner who has a really low sperm count. This woman is probably fertile, but her partner is not. So again, she doesn’t fall into the category of being unlikely to conceive without IVF. It’s just really poorly worded.”

Prof Wingfield, one of the country’s top fertility doctors, said she believes the legislation could also limit couples who can get pregnant but need assisted human reproduction because there may be a very serious genetic condition in their family.

Prof Wingfield was one of several assisted human reproductive experts calling on the government to change a number of aspects of the forthcoming bill.

The group of doctors, nurses, scientists, consultants and administrators working in assisted human reproductive clinics across Ireland are calling for the bill to offer ovarian tissue freezing for girls with cancer, alongside plans to freeze eggs and sperm from children with cancer .

Prof Wingfield said the group, which includes counselors, firmly believes legislation should not oblige those undergoing fertility treatment to seek counselling.

“We’re very much in favor of advice, and for things like donor treatments or surrogacy, you definitely need advice.

“But any couple who want to have a baby, just like any other couple who don’t have a fertility problem, doesn’t need counseling.

“We don’t have mandatory counseling for anything,” she said.

The bill is expected to enter committee before Christmas.

The government has said it plans to change legislation at this stage to regulate international surrogacy for the first time.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/assisted-human-reproduction-badly-worded-fertility-bill-will-effectively-stop-women-freezing-their-eggs-clinic-chief-warns-42022308.html Assisted human reproduction: ‘Poorly drafted’ fertility law will ‘effectively prevent women from freezing their eggs’, clinic boss warns

Fry Electronics Team

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