Fertility Awareness Week runs from 31st October through to 4th November 2022. The aim is to make more people aware of the struggles some people face to expand their family whilst directly supporting the 3.5million people facing fertility struggles.
This year’s theme is #Fighting4fertility. It’s somewhat sad that this should have to be a fight at all, but it very much is when there can be limited access to GP / referral services for fertility issues, limited access to funding fertility issues, and limited support and knowledge about the issues individuals or couples face to have something that can come so easily to others.
Information sharing is key as often people don’t know their options about how they could expand their family in other ways or the legality of doing so. As a specialist fertility lawyer, I advise on alternative routes to having a child whether it be through egg, sperm or embryo donation, surrogacy, or adoption. There are different legal ramifications for sperm donation depending on whether this takes place inside or outside of a UK licenced clinic so it is important to get advice in advance of taking any steps. Surrogacy can be a wonderful altruistic path to parenthood for the intended parents but advice should be taken upfront so all parties involved are aware of the legal status of each person involved and how to change the legal statuses post birth. For example, the surrogate (and her husband if she happens to be married) will be the legal parents on birth even if they have no biological connection to the child. The intended parents need to apply for a parental order from the court post birth to change that status. The law on surrogacy needs reform and steps have been taken in the right direction in that now single parents can now apply for a parental order rather than the previous criteria insisting on a couple applying. Advances have also been made in relation to egg, sperm and embryo storage in that they have been extended allowing fertility options to be preserved for longer.
Awareness needs to be raised more with employers who should consider having a fertility policy for staff as fertility treatment is not recognised by the majority of employers as necessary medical treatment and there is no legal right to time off work for fertility appointments. Employers should consider recognising fertility treatment as a clinical necessity and to provide appropriate medical leave. Awareness and information sharing is also important when trying to support a friend or work colleague who may be facing fertility issues.
The Fertility Network UK provides free and impartial support, advice, information and understanding for anyone affected by fertility issues and they are leading the Fertility Awareness Week campaign. They are encouraging people to post about #Fertilityin5 words. Mine are: hope options support educate change.
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