Win a Baby? Controversy in Britain over IVF Lottery

July 8, 2011

A British charity will allow individuals to enter a lottery for the chance to win free in-vitro fertilization treatment.

Those Red Coats across the pond have come up with a fair-minded, yet extraordinarily controversial charity called “To Hatch,” which will allow hopeful Brits to purchase a $32 ticket putting them in a lottery for the chance to win a free in-vitro fertilization treatment.

The “win a baby” lottery gives both heterosexual and homosexual couples, as well as singles, a chance to win an IVF treatment worth up to 25,000 pounds, or roughly $40,000 American dollars. Along with this treatment comes a stay at a luxury hotel and a limousine ride to the treatment facility.

The winner would also receive alternative treatments should the IVF fail, such as reproductive surgery, donor eggs and sperm, or even a surrogate birth.

“To Hatch” will begin drawing lucky winners each month starting on July 30th. The charity stated that the purpose of this lottery is to give those who cannot afford current IVF treatments a chance at parenthood when they may not have had one before.

Of course, this little lottery has certainly garnered plenty of attention for the charity itself, and the “To Hatch” website reportedly crashed early today due to an increased amount of traffic.

The controversy lies in the ethics of how fair it is to make parenthood into a game of reverse Russian Rolette.

The British Gambling Commission granted a license to the charity to run the lottery, despite an angry outcry from medical and ethical groups.

Britain's fertility regulator, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, reported in a statement that this lottery is "wrong and entirely inappropriate,” continuing to state that "it trivializes what is for many people a central part of their lives.”

Josephine Quintavalle, spokesman for Comment on Reproductive Ethics, stated, "The more one looks at it, the more one is horrified….If you look at the claims that are being made, if you won and you were not eligible for IVF, they will offer surrogate motherhood, embryos and eggs, so they are actually involving other parties as well."

The lottery's creator, Camille Strachan, who has struggled to conceive a child herself, refuses to back down. She reported that the lottery is an "ultimate wish list" for those struggling to conceive, most especially with the recent government budget cuts, in which IVF lost some funding.

"The license couldn't have come at a better time with drastic (government health service) budget cuts ... where in most cases IVF is the first on the hit list, rendering most couples resorting to private treatment," she stated.