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New health strategy removes IVF barriers for LGBTQ women

Stonewall has called the new legislation a "huge win".

By Emily Maskell

Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Pexels

A new government strategy will mean female same-sex couples will no longer have to pay for artificial insemination.

This is the first-ever Women’s Health Strategy and Stonewall UK has called the new legislation blueprint as a “huge win”.

“Lesbians, bi women, and trans people will no longer face additional barriers to accessing IVF, following our #IVFforAll campaign,” the LGBTQ+ rights charity shared on social media.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our supporters, who campaigned alongside us for this change.”

The strategy is set to directly remove the additional barriers to IVF for female same-sex couples.

“There will no longer be a requirement for them to pay for artificial insemination to prove their fertility status,” the Department of Health and Social Care announced in a statement on

Adding: “NHS treatment for female same-sex couples will start with 6 cycles of artificial insemination, prior to accessing IVF services, if necessary.”

The planned strategy is also aiming to improve transparency “on provision and availability of IVF so prospective parents can see how their local area performs to tackle the ‘postcode lottery’ in access to IVF treatment.”

“We are delighted that the UK Government has listened to our call for fair and equal access to IVF treatment,” Nancy Kelley, Stonewall CEO, stated about the new strategy.

“For years, lesbians, bi women, and trans people have been forced to pay for up to £25,000 of private healthcare before they can access IVF on the NHS, or face giving up their dream of becoming parents,” Kelley continues. “This is a giant step towards a world where LGBTQ+ people have the same opportunity as everyone else to build a loving, thriving, family of their own.”

The legislation comes less than one year into Stonewall’s ‘IVF For All’ campaign that called for LGBTQ+ people to have equal access to fertility services.

The campaign was supported by lesbian couple Whitney and Megan Bacon-Evans who launched a judicial review legal challenge against their local NHS health board in October 2021 on the basis that the current IVF policy discriminated against lesbian couples, the legal case is ongoing.

In response to the proposed strategy, the couple shared they “screamed and cried at the news,” adding “this is exactly what we hoped to achieve when starting our campaign and legal action in the fight for fertility equality. We hoped it would create awareness and to set a precedent and be a catalyst for change.”

Maria Caulfield, Minister for Women’s Health, furthers that tackling the gender health gap won’t be easy for the “deep seated, systemic issues” they will tackle, but she emphasized that this must be addressed “to ensure women receive the same standards of care as men, universally and by default.”

“This strategy is the start of that journey but eradicating the gender health gap can’t be done through health services alone,” Caulfield continues. “I am calling on everyone who has the power to positively impact women’s health, from employers to doctors and teachers to industry, to join us in our journey.”

Sarah Norcross, director of the fertility charity PET, welcomed the decision to remove barriers to IVF access but said it was “incredibly disappointing” that there was no plan to tackle the “postcode lottery” of treatment in different parts of England.

“The commitment to improve transparency in relation to the availability of IVF does not equate to giving women the chance to try to have a baby,” she told the BBC

The Attitude July/August issue is out now.