So the stigma of having a mental illness continues. Under the
pretext of protecting children born through IVF, the Human
Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is consulting on revising
its screening process for prospective parents. Proposals include
new risk factors, such as a history of mental illness.
While a screening process is necessary, it shouldn’t be
heavy-handed. There are plenty of parents with mental health
problems, learning difficulties, sensory impairments, and physical
disabilities who bring up their children well – sometimes with
support from social services, but not always. There are also plenty
of parents with none of these added difficulties not doing such a
great job, and no one screened them.
Parents who don’t need IVF only have their child removed for
legitimate child protection reasons. It should be the same for
those who do need IVF. We talk about getting rid of the stigma of
mental illness, while punishing those who experience it.
The HFEA intends to use social workers to assess people’s
history of mental illness. Let’s hope that social workers, who know
better than most that people with difficulties of all kinds often
make good parents, can bring some common sense to the process.