The US fertility lottery

A fertility clinic in the US has recently held a lottery offering a number of free cycles of IVF – which was a good PR exercise for the clinic itself. I’ve just been reading an article about this and was surprised to discover that the “free” cycle didn’t actually include the cost of any drugs (which, as anyone who has been through treatment will know, are extremely pricey). Nor did it include any additional treatments such as PGD or sperm freezing should they be needed. Entrants also had to be under the age of 43.

The lottery was drawn live on Facebook, 30 winners from the 500 or so entrants which seems a small number given what was on offer. But perhaps not, as they also had to agree to forfeit their right to anonymity as the names and locations of winners would be announced during the live draw.

This was carried out for the US National Infertility Awareness Week and whilst the sentiments may appear honourable, the idea of winners having to agree to let the world know about their fertility problems is something I struggle with – as is the concept of a prize which involves spending hundreds of pounds…

Is it ever right to raffle fertility treatment?

When plans for an IVF lottery were announced here in the UK, the overall response was far from positive with questions raised about the ethics and the finances, but in the US it appears that running lotteries for fertility treatment has become more common.  One clinic even asked people to enter a competition to win treatment by writing or making a video about their fertility problems and why they deserved treatment…

It’s true that our current access to funded fertility treatment is problematic to say the least, and that many couples simply can’t afford to go privately – but does that make running lotteries for treatment right? Those in favour argue that it offers hope, but if your chance of winning is one in a million, it’s probably more about raising unrealistic expectations.  Lotteries may be a good way for clinics to gain publicity, they may be a good way for individuals to make money – but I don’t see how a lottery can ever be a satisfactory way to offer healthcare.

If you’re interested, you can read more about the US lotteries here