Saturday, 9 July 2011

IVF Lottery - What do you think?

This week Britain's Moral Outrage (TM) has had but one focus - Murdoch, phone hacking and News Of the World.  This means that other news that would normally have middle England spitting out their Chablis in disgust has gone almost unnoticed.

I say, almost, because their have been murmurings.

The source of this storm in a teacup is the news that an IVF lottery is due to be launched in the UK.

Before I go any further I would like to stress that I have not been asked to write about this, I have no affiliation with the charity that is running it and I am certainly not a shoe-in to win it.


The facts are: from the 30th of July you will be able to buy lottery tickets, priced at twenty quid (approx. 32 bucks) a pop, for a chance to win £25,000 worth of IVF (inclusive of hotel stay, travel, drugs, the works).

Most sensationalist journalists prefer to lead with the line: WIN A BABY!!! - they, and many people who comment on the article seem oblivious to the fact that IVF doesn't always work.

Now I love to be outraged as much as the next person but, frankly, I can't see why I should be.

As far as I can see the whole process of getting pregnant is already a lottery. One that approximately six in seven couples win lottery quite happily just by virtue of being fertile.

The rest of us, in the UK, then migrate onto the state sponsored lottery run by the National Health Centre. Depending on which Health Trust's area you live in your experiences can vary vastly.

Allow me to demonstrate:

My Trust offers two rounds of IVF for people who fulfill their criteria.  I have had these two rounds. If I lived less than half a mile down the road I'd be in an area that, amazingly, funds three rounds of IVF. Where the womb mate lives they have just announced they are cutting their offer from two rounds to one.  Thankfully the womb mate was referred just early enough to qualify for a second round.  We are the lucky ones, there are several trusts who just fund one, or none, or have such incredibly restrictions eliminating many potential IVF-ers.

This lottery is based on ones postcode.

Because of this I really don't see a problem with a lottery to win IVF. It is no more of a lottery than everything else we've been put through to conceive.

Comments on the online articles I have seen about the IVF lottery have range from the articulate, reasoned: "OMG" and "WTF?!!!" to the bizarrely hysterical: "What if paedophiles win?"

Then there is the heart-felt concern that "This lottery is exploiting desperate women. They might spend hundreds or thousands of pounds hoping to win".

Yeah poor us. Although I have just spent £4 on a Euromillions ticket, my plan is to win that jackpot on Tuesday - getting £166 million or thereabouts - which, unless my calculations are wildly out, I reckon would enable me to afford a couple of rounds of IVF with spare change. A much more appealing option than 'just' wining one round of IVF.

I don't feel exploited. And I am not about to spend all my IVF savings on a ticket to win IVF. I might, however, bung twenty quid the lottery's way.

But I want to know what you think. You, calm, rational, intelligent women who actually understand what it is like to need fertility treatment. Feel free to disagree with me. I can tell the difference between a troll and a difference of opinion and I'd like to hear your take on it.

Edited. Further reading here:

You can read various articles about it here:


  1. I saw the article in the Telegraph (why yes, I do peruse international papers when I'm supposed to be working. Why do you ask?) and was horrified by both the title and the slant of the article. I have mild issues with winning medical treatments, but I think it stems from all the idiotic U.S. radio personalities who regularly offer breast enhancements or other plastic surgery to their listeners. But I'm all for people getting free IVF, and there have been several clinics in the U.S. who have done contests for such a thing. I hope you win (if you decide to buy a ticket).

  2. I'm curious - Will the winner's name be published? This is the only thing I can imagine being a bit sketchy. If I had the chance I'd go for it. Who knows, maybe you'll get lucky.

  3. I think the idea--money for IVF--is great. The way it sounds like they're publicizing it feels odd, but that's the way the world and its marketing machine work. If it happens that the Euromillions doesn't work out for you, this sounds like a good fallback option.

  4. oh my goodness! I can't believe it - how strange! But's a bit like a story I read about today where women in India are being offered lottery tickets to win a car if they opt to be sterilised.

    Even though they are completely different things they are all about offering people to chance to have more control over their fertility which otherwise they may not be able to afford...I just wish everything was free and available to everyone. I know it sounds like utopia, but why ever not?

  5. I'm with you, W4I, I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be morally outraged but I'm not. A lottery is a lottery - money is money, it's just that this lottery has its funds dedicated already. I'd enter it if I could.


  6. I found it, for want of a better word, amusing that most of the people who commented on The Guardian's article on this story were appalled by the idea of "winning a baby" at the same time as being against NHS-funded IVF. Infertility - the curse that just keeps on cursing.

  7. I've just read some of the comments in the Telegraph, and was actually appalled by the stupidity of some of those people. "They'll sell the baby to a paedophile!" was one, along with "All people who have IVF are child abusers... for not adopting instead."
    I don't really have a problem with it, but I also know that IVF does not automatically equal a baby, unfortunately. IVF is expensive and for those whose PCT has stopped funding it completely, or who have had their NHS cycles, or who simply don't meet the criteria for whatever reason, then why not. It is, after all, a monetary prize and nothing more. And let's face it, if I had won the lottery last night, I'd be off down to the best fertility clinic in the country (wherever that may be) to see the best person with my winnings. I don't see that this is particularly different.

  8. I can't get myself worked up about the lottery itself. The idiot commenters on the articles now there is something to get worked up about.

  9. I am all for it if it means I may get a baby in the end. Sadly the idiots out there do not realize that a baby is not guaranteed!
    I play the national lottery and I certainly will be playing the IVF lottery!

  10. Walk a mile in my shoes.

    That is all you have to say.

    No one has the right to judge unless they have been in the situation that you are in.

    Crossing my fingers you win!

    (and what if a paedophile wins made me laugh... people really are stupid aren't they?)

  11. The comments on the article hurt my heart. As does sensationalizing it as "win a baby!"

    My moral outrage is at the fact that there needs to be such a lottery because of such uncertain and unfair funding. If there were something around here that I could give $32 bucks a month to and then have the possibility of having my IVF paid for? I'd do it gladly. Oh, wait, that's supposed to be how my insurance works except I give them a lot more than $32 a month and have no chance whatsoever at having my IVF paid for.

  12. I would totally enter that lottery if I were in your spot.

    There will always be uneducated idiots ready with their opinions...especially on the internet.

  13. Yes the postcode lottery in UK.. I have had my one and only funded IVF-cycle so that's that. Now let's enter this one, why not? I don't really have a problem with it, I'm more curious about the ongoing and upcoming debate.

    Oh, and I just wrote about this as well. Found you through a fellow blogger that mentioned it in a comment.

  14. It's ironic and completely hypocritical, but I think it's ok. I would however be hugely outraged if, say, the lottery were to fund an adoption. Somehow that makes a difference (perhaps because that literally is buying a baby, perhaps not). I should find this lottery business outrageous, but I really don't.

    That said, I live in an area that doesn't fund any free IVF. Postcode lotteries suck.

  15. If I lived in the UK you can bet I would buy a ticket or 3 for this. Whenever my husband and I talk about winning the lottery, the first thing we would spend it on is a trip to a fertility clinic, so I dont see how this is any different!

  16. I am 99.9% sure this is all a publicity stunt and nothing will happen, esp because no clinic is signed up. I cannot imagine that any central london clinic (or one elsewhere) would agree to take this money, so my guess is it will all go away once the traffic to her website is where she wants it to be.


I've resisted word verification for ages but I'm getting so many spam comments at the moment that I think it is time. Sorry!