Sunday, 4 July 2010

IVF on the NHS - Parenthood is not a right, Part II

Melanie Phillips recently wrote a good article on IVF:
Current NHS guidance says all infertile women aged between 23 and 39 should be offered three cycles of IVF.

NICE is proposing instead that infertile women could be granted or denied treatment based on their ovarian reserve - the number of eggs that remain in their ovaries. While this number generally diminishes with age, the rate at which it does so varies with each woman.
After considering some of the justifications given, Phillips concludes that
this proposal has precious little to do with either logic or fairness. It is all about NICE’s anxiety not to be sued under Harriet Harman’s oppressive Equality Act, which makes unlawful just about every kind of ‘discrimination’ that the human imagination could possibly dream up.

In other words, it’s yet another example of the way in which anti-discrimination dogma simply flies in the face of common sense, increasingly outlawing any difference in the way people are treated regardless of their very different circumstances.

It is driven by near-fanatical belief that it is everyone’s ‘human right’ to be entitled to exactly the same things as everyone else.
The Equality Act is a loathsome piece of legislation indeed, and I would love to see it repealed, but the great injustice in this story as far as I'm concerned is that anyone is getting IVF on the NHS.

Parenthood is not a right. If an infertile woman wants to use her own money to pursue IVF, that's one thing (though I share some of Phillips's concerns about the welfare of children born to older mothers and into fatherless households). But to say that I should be forced to surrender a portion of my income so that these women can have children is quite another. Unlike national defence, rubbish collection, education, and poverty relief, there is no conceivable case for declaring these pregnancies 'public goods'; this is theft, pure and simple.

In light of such gross abuses, the Coalition's commitment to ring-fence NHS spending is ridiculous.

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