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Minister for Health Announces his intention to Fund Fertility Treatment in conjunction with planned Legislation

Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, has announced his intention to provide public funding for assisted human reproductive treatment in conjunction with the planned introduction of legislation in this area.

“I believe it is important that we should consider how best to provide public funding for fertility treatment in tandem with closing the current legislative gap in this area of healthcare. Fertility treatments should be funded in such a way that not only maximises efficiency but which ensures equity of access as well,” Minister Varadkar said.

“Nevertheless, the provision of public funding for assisted human reproduction must be accompanied by a robust system of legal governance which will promote and protect the health and wellbeing of patients and most especially the children who will be born as a result of the treatment.”

In February 2015, the Government gave approval to draft a General Scheme of legislative provisions dealing with a broad range of aspects relating to assisted human reproduction. Drafting is underway and the General Scheme will be published in the first half of 2016.

The Department of Health is commissioning an evidence review of international public funding models. The review will inform policy regarding the optimal mechanism for any future public funding of assisted human reproduction in the State.

The ability to conceive a child naturally is a normal human expectation and a diagnosis of infertility can be a source of emotional distress, physical discomfort and financial hardship.

While fertility treatment is not provided in the Irish public health service, financial support is available to individuals. For example, tax relief for medical expenses and the cost of certain approved fertility medicines are covered under the Medical Card or Drugs Payment Scheme.