Many hospitals in the Netherlands refuse to give fertility treatment to single women, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday, quoting feminist magazine Opzij.
Although single women cannot be officially barred from receiving ivf treatment and artificial insemination, many hospitals effectively do so, the magazine said.
Opzij researchers looked at 39 hospitals and found single women were ‘not welcome’ for fertility treatment in 19 of them.
The excuses given were mainly of a practical nature, such as not having a sperm bank, rather than disapproval of single parenthood, the Volkskrant said. The paper did not say if couples were also refused treatment for the same reasons.
Guidelines drawn up by the national gynaecologists’ association NVOG state doctors can refuse to treat women if the welfare of the future child is in doubt – a clause applied to people with a history of drug addiction and child abuse.
However, NVOG expert Frank Broekmans told the magazine that some hospitals have decided not to offer single women fertility treatment because they believe a single parent family is not in the interests of the child.
This, he said, is not discrimination because there are enough alternatives and fertility treatment is not a medical necessity.
Broekmans is attached to Utrecht’s UMC teaching hospital, where single women are welcomed but have to go through a screening process. ‘We test the would-be mother’s stability in both social and economic terms,’ he told the paper. ‘A social worker looks into whether the mother has a supportive network.’
Some 20% of women do not pass the screening process, he said.
Other hospitals, including the St Elizabeth hospital in Tilburg, use a psychological test.
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