Thursday, 7 July 2011

Enter our lottery, and win a chance to have a baby!

A UK charity is to launch a

lottery

in which for the price of £20 per ticket, entrants will have the chance to win a monthly prize of £25000 worth of fertility treatment.

Approximately 45000 cycles of IVF are carried out in the UK each year, however many of these have to be privately funded since the NHS has strict criteria for funding IVF. At an average cost of £4000 per cycle, it isn't difficult to see how a couple desperate to have a baby but without the financial means to fund the treatment, might turn to a lottery-type game in order to be in with a chance.

Using a lottery to win the chance of medical treatment surely raises signifficant questions:

IVF is a medical procedure, surely there are some ethical issues attached to being able to gamble for the chance to win medical treatment? And if you can do it with IVF, where do you draw the line? A lottery for cosmetic surgery? How about a lottery to win the chance to receive cancer treatments that are not funded by the NHS? After all, if it's not wrong to do it for IVF, then why would it be wrong to do it for any other kind of treatment?

Also how right is it ethically and morally to gamble for the chance to create a life? IVF itself carries risks, risk of side effects from the drugs, risks of multiple pregnancy, and the associated risks to the babies in the event of a twin pregnancy or more.

And finally we surely have to look at the financial implications. At a cost of £20 per ticket, in order to raise the £25000 needed for the prize, you would only need to sell 1250 tickets. Bearing in mind that many people would be likely to buy more than one ticket, it's highly likely that more tickets would be sold. So how right is it that this charity would then profit from the desperation of infertile couples?

As it is IVF is a gamble, since the chances of success are around one in three. So is it right to gamble for the chance to gamble for the chance to have a baby?

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