IVF bid for Swedish singles moves forward

Plans to allow single women in Sweden to have fertility treatment funded by taxpayers are expected to come into force next year. The new rules would allow the same reproductive rights to singles as women in a relationship.

IVF bid for Swedish singles moves forward
Singles could be allowed to undergo IVF treatment in Sweden. Photo: Nora Lorek/TT

Taxpayer-funded in vitro fertilization (IVF) is currently only available in Sweden for women in married couples or in long-term relationships, rules which have been widely criticized as “outdated”.

Plans to change this took one step forward on Thursday as the Social Democrat-Green coalition government presented them to the Swedish Council on Legislation, the body that reviews new laws before parliament votes on them.

The idea was originally put forward by an inquiry funded by the former centre-right government in May last year and is set to be voted on in parliament in summer.

Private IVF treatment in Sweden costs around 30,000 kronor ($4,150) per cycle. In recent years, increasing numbers of Swedish women have travelled abroad for fertility treatment instead.

“They leave because they don't enjoy the same opportunities in Sweden, because Swedish rules for such a treatment still assume that two parents are required to raise a child. It is an outdated view,” Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, Equality Minister Åsa Regnér and Public Health Minister Gabriel Wikström wrote in an opinion piece for Swedish broadcaster SVT's online debate section.

READ MORE: Regional heavyweight backs IVF for singles

The inquiry into IVF for single women was led by investigator Eva Wendel Roseberg and suggested that it should be up to doctors to determine whether or not potential mothers would be capable of taking care of a child by themselves.

Investigators estimated that should the proposed law changes take effect, between 1,500 and 2,000 single women could take up the chance to get fertility treatment in Sweden every year.

But the bid is not wholly uncontroversial and the Children's Ombudsman (Barnombudsmannen) proposed in a remark on the official inquiry that the woman's social network, medical and psychological situation should be investigated by the social services before she is granted permission to undergo IVF treatment.

“Growing up with only one parent means additional vulnerability,” commented the Ombudsman.

However, the proposal enjoys wide support from both political blocs and is expected to be approved. All parties in parliament apart from the Sweden Democrats and the Christian Democrats support fertility treatment for singles.

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