No babies for Big Fat Mamas

Unfortunately, the diet didn’t take this year, and I will have to wait until next year for the svelte figure. Mind you, there are some advantages to the ‘traditional build’, like needing your extra tonnage to break out of a H-Block prison cell. The guide diplomatically explained to me that if one of the ‘smaller’ women had gotten locked in , it would have definitely been a Fire and Resuce job. It also comes in handy after a long session with someone who has had to tell a difficult or harrowing story- a wee hug to the ample bosom seems comforting. But one thing fat women may not be doing any more is getting free IVF treatment on the NHS. The British Fertility Society has recommended that free IVF should be limited to women of healthy weight because obesity reduces success rates and adds to the risks of pregnancy.

At the moment the Government has asked primary care trusts to offer women at least one free cycle of IVF treatment, but has produced no detailed guidelines on who should qualify or any extra funds. This has led individual trusts to impose a bewildering range of restrictions. Many set different obesity limits and refuse to treat smokers and couples who already have children, even when adopted or from previous relationships. Others will not fund treatment of couples who have paid for IVF themselves. About 27,000 women receive IVF in Britain each year and around a quarter of treatments are provided by the NHS.

Once again we face the debate about the nature of the provision of healthcare, and whether we are worthy or deserving of care. While there is obviously an argument about fertility being enhanced with a healthy weight, I seem to recall we had a similar debate a while ago with the child who received non- conventional treatment for leukaemia and did very well.

If it is right to take a chance on a child where the odds are not exactly in favour, why are we discriminating against childless women who desire a baby, but are overweight? Where are we drawing the ethical lines in terms of discrimination for various treatments, and where will it stop?