IVF Fairness parliamentary petition forced to close with less than 24 hours’ notice

The IVF Fairness parliamentary petition has been forced to close with less than 24 hours’ notice due to the upcoming election – but still managed to reach 10,000 signatures before the deadline 

The petition set up by Emily Scott of IVF Fairness to end the IVF postcode lottery managed to gather over 3,000 signatures in less than a day after it was revealed the petition would be closed three months earlier than scheduled.

Emily, who is calling for equal access to IVF on the NHS, received an email stating that ‘because of the General Election, the closing date for your petition has changed. All petitions now have to close at 00:01am on November 6. This is because Parliament will be dissolved, which means all parliamentary business – including petitions – will come to an end until after the election.’

At present, treatment for infertility such as IVF is allocated depending on the area of the country you live in, with some local UK Clinical Commissioning Groups( CCGs) offering none or one, with only a handful offering up to three rounds of funded treatment.

The petition submitted by IVF Fairness was set up as a call for fair and equal access to treatment on the NHS, and came after another petition which garnered 100,000 signatures was delivered to parliament by Fertility Network UK and IVF Babble in January, and is still awaiting further discussion in Parliament nearly a year later, in part due to the UK Government’s concentration on Brexit.

Emily has been encouraged to re-submit the petition in the next parliament session

In response to a complaint submitted by IVF Fairness to the House of Commons, a clerk from the Petitions Committee said: “While this blanket approach will be frustrating, and potentially difficult for people to understand, it is a longstanding precedent for how Parliament works, and how petitions to Parliament and Government have been treated in all previous elections.’

Emily has been encouraged by the clerk to re-submit the petition in the next parliament and as the original petition gained 10,000 signatures  a response will be requested in the new parliament once a petitions committee has been established.

IVF Fairness will fight on for equality

Emily said: “Closing petitions abruptly in this way completely disregards the time and energy that goes into campaigning and canvassing for signatures, not to mention the fact that often these petitions relate to deeply personal and sometime sensitive issues.

In our case, the 24-hour deadline placed a huge amount of pressure on us to gather a significant number of signatures in a short amount of time to reach the 10,000-mark which might give us a chance of receiving a response from the next government after the election. This was hugely stressful, and it was only thanks to incredible people-power and generosity of spirit that we achieved 10,000 signatures in time.

“We fully intend to hold the next government to account to reply and take action, and are considering the possibility of restarting the petition from scratch. We have received incredible support in relation to this idea from other campaigners, along with Fertility Network UK and IVF babble.

“We also intend to submit a formal proposal to parliament to instigate a change to how petitions operate during an election. For the sake of democracy, we intend to propose a more appropriate and fair approach whereby petitions are suspended while an election takes place, and could then be resumed when a new government commences.”

Emily Scott will be keeping you up to date with the latest here on IVF babble and, along with The Fertility Network, we will be supporting IVF Fairness with their campaign and efforts and continuing to fight for fair access to IVF across the UK.

To find out more about the incredible Emily and Ben Scott and IVF Fairness, go to @ivffairness on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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