The Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has come up with a proposal to make assisted reproduction treatment available to single women. Under the current practice, assisted reproduction treatment in the Czech Republic is only available to women who have a partner. If the proposal is approved, the Czech Republic would join other European countries, such as Denmark, Belgium or the UK, which have already made that option available.
Although Czech legislation only makes assisted reproduction treatment available to couples, in reality, many single women bypass regulations by claiming that they live with a partner. According to the most recent figures, more than 45 percent of Czech children are born out of marriage and it is likely that the number of single mothers will be increasing in the future.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Michaela Marksová, outlines the reasons behind the proposal:
“As far as we know many of the hospitals are carrying out IVF anyway, but not legally. I think that in the context of the Czech Republic, where the demography is really low, we should help every woman who wants to have a child.
“I know several women who found themselves in a very difficult situation, when a doctor told them: if you ever want to have a child, you should do it immediately via IVF, but those women did not have a partner at that moment.”
Although the changes are intended for all women regardless of their sexual orientation, the change would be particularly welcome by lesbian couples, says Zdeněk Sloboda of Proud, a Czech initiative promoting the rights of homosexuals:
“We know that lesbian women living as couples are frequently consider having children using IVF facilities. In the current situation they find themselves in sort of a grey zone: they are not doing anything illegal but it is also not legal. Therefore we would be happy if the proposal passes because it would make it legal for lesbians to have children using IVF facilities.”
The change would also be welcome by the country’s IVF clinics, whose number has been steadily growing in recent years and currently numbers around 40. Some 40 percent of the clinics’ clients are foreigners and the change to the legislation would likely boost business.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs also proposes to increase the number of state-funded procedures from the current four to six, as well as to increase the age limit until which the procedure is funded by insurance companies from 39 to 43. Minister Michaela Marksová again:
“In the Czech Republic as well as in other developed countries, the age of women who are having their first child keeps increasing. So we would like for those women who need to go through the IVF treatment to have better chances that they will really have the child.”
The number of IVF pregnancies in the Czech Republic has been increasing in recent years. In 2013, around 4,500 children were born via IVF treatment and currently infertility concerns every fifth couple.