The At-Least-One-Child Policy


Weird things happen when government officials suddenly decide that older women need cost-free IVF babies. At the London Times, Alice Miles asks what it takes to get a taxpayer funded test tube across the pond:

In Durham you must wait four or five years, have a body mass index not greater than 30 and have no surviving children in your current relationship, before you are allowed IVF treatment on the NHS. Thames Valley will not treat a woman unless she is 36 and has never paid for any IVF treatment privately. In Norwich you have to have a body mass index no more than 34, no children from a previous relationship and must be a couple who have lived in Norfolk for at least two years. In Southampton City there are no social eligibility criteria; in North Dorset you must have been in a stable relationship for at least three years. In Rowley Regis and Tipton there must be no children on the maternal side; in Mendip there must be no children living with the couple and "no access to children from previous relationship". And in Cherwell Vale the couple must be non-smokers.

If you're already in the rationing game, some of this makes a certain kind of sense. Smoking and obesity lower success rates, and screening out those who choose to smoke and eat excessively seems fair enough. The thing is, you can smoke a pack a day and feast on–well, British food–and none of that will gum up the birth-giving machine like ageing will. Smoking isn't the problem; waiting until 36 is. It's not clear why the NHS considers that particular choice worth rewarding.