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Spain's lesbians and singles face IVF hurdle

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Spain's lesbians and singles face IVF hurdle
Gay rights groups in Spain are concerned the proposal will leave lesbian couples out in the cold when it comes to publicly funded fertility treatments. Photo: Quinn Dombrowski
17:27 CEST+02:00
The Spanish Government is looking at barring single women, lesbians and older couples from access to assisted reproduction technologies like IVF in the country's hospitals.

Spain's health ministry are hoping to approve the cost-cutting move on Tuesday July 23rd, El Mundo reported on Friday.

Experts consulted by the paper said cuts in this expensive sector have been in the offing for some time now.

There have even been rumours that public hospitals would scrap those services altogether, those experts said.

This, however, appears not to be the case.

Instead, the Spanish health ministry plans to limit publicly funded access to these assisted reproduction technologies to couples comprised of man and a women where at least partner is infertile.

Age will also be a factor. Only couples where the woman is under 40 and the man is under 55 will be entitled to these services in the planned move.

Couples where one partner has previously been voluntarily sterilized will also be unable to obtain reproductive treatments through Spain's public system.

According to El País newspaper, the proposal — worded as it is — would exclude both single women and lesbians with fertility problems from these services.

Spain's health ministry says the move is not ideologically driven but the plans have prompted strong reactions.

"The government has a monolithic version of what constitutes a family," said Isabel Gómez, spokesperson for Spain's peak gay, lesbian and transgender body FELGTB.

Meanwhile, Gerardo Ruiz Rico, Professor of Constitutional Law at Jaén believes the proposed criteria are discriminatory.

"They (the health ministry) are establishing a series of conditions which mean a return to the definition of a couple as being formed of a man and a woman," said Ruiz Pico.

This went against Constitutional Court doctrine, given the court had recognized gay marriage, the professor told El País.

The head of Spanish Fertility Society José Antonio Castilla said there were no medical grounds for excluding single women and lesbians from access to these services.

He added excellent results were often seen with these groups.

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