Judicial review proceedings have been issued in the High Court against a NHS Clinical Commissioning Group relating to their policy on providing IVF to same-sex female couples.
Frimley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) requires same-sex couples seeking one cycle of NHS funded IVF treatment to undergo 12 cycles of intra-uterine insemination (IUI) at their own cost, with six of those being carried out in a clinical setting.
Statement from Whitney and Megan Bacon-Evans:
“After 12 years of being together, we were excited to start our family together, however we were shocked to discover discrimination in place after embarking on our baby journey. We presumed that as we are legally a married couple, that as a family we would also be viewed as equal in the eyes of the law; but that appears to sadly not be the case. Not only were we upset to discover discrimination in place in 2020, we were also shocked that it has been in place and affecting so many same-sex couples for so long, and nothing has yet been done about it.
As we have an online platform, we voiced our concerns and received so many messages from our followers who are in a lesbian relationship and the devastating fertility journeys that they had all been embarking on. We knew we couldn’t sit back and do nothing. As a result we launched a petition for Fertility Equality in November 2020, asking for the government to conduct a review of the fertility sector. Having a child can be one of the most meaningful and transformational things that can happen in a person’s life, and so we have instructed the top UK law firm Leigh Day with barristers Jude Bunting and Marlena Valles to represent us to take action against the discriminatory policies which prevent same-sex female couples from having equal access to fertility treatment.
Our local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CGC) policy states that female same-sex couples must self-fund 12 rounds of artificial insemination, 6 of which must be IUI in a private clinic. This forces female same-sex couples to pay tens of thousands of pounds in artificial inseminations in expensive private clinics to prove that they are infertile before they are eligible for any fertility treatment on the NHS. However, cis heterosexual couples can qualify for IVF on the NHS if they have not become pregnant after two years of unprotected sex, with no financial cost to them whatsoever. This financial barrier on the LGBTQ+ community pushes some into debt and others into dangerous situations, or giving up on being able to create a family at all.
We are doing this in the hopes to help create a future where LGBTQ+ families are treated as equal. If found to be unlawful, this could positively impact the lives of tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of LGBTQ+ people embarking on their path to parenthood now and in the future to come. It is time for discrimination to end and for there to be equal treatment with heterosexual couples in the healthcare system.”
Whitney and Megan are also being supported by LGBT rights charity Stonewall UK and BPAS Fertility Services. If this case is successfully granted, it could be heard in January 2022.
“This is something that has the possibility to make REAL change for everyone & we need your help! This is not to support our own fertility journey and will not be using this money in any personal way. ” – Whitney Bacon-Evans
Whitney and Megan have set up a fundraiser on crowdjustice to help cover the our fees if they lose in court (majority of which are the defendants fees). Without raising funds, they cannot bring this claim. If they win the case, the funds raised will be donated to help fight a similar legal case or into the Access to Justice Fund or donated to charity. The funds will be sent directly to Bacon-Evans’ lawyers (Leigh Day are acting on a ‘no win no fee’ basis).
More information can be found on Wegan’s blog post.
A spokesperson for NHS Frimley CCG said: “The fertility services we provide are based on NICE guidance. While we can’t comment on individual cases we will fully engage with any legal proceedings.”