Gay couples ‘to access IVF treatment in Dutch clinics’

Dutch gay couples walk with their children in the Netherlands.

Clinics in the Netherlands will begin offering IVF treatment to gay couples and surrogate mothers starting next year, according to a report from Dutch current affairs show De Monitor.

The TV show surveyed all of the country’s fertility clinics, finding at least two facilities who have agreed to provide IVF treatment to gay couples from 2019 onwards.

The change means that gay couples who want to become fathers will no longer have to travel abroad to achieve their dreams of parenthood.

“Gay couples who desire to have children should be able to access IVF treatment in the Netherlands.”

— Annemiek Nap

One clinic, MC Kinderwens in Leiderdorp, will demand the surrogate mother to also be the egg donor, while the Nij Geertgen facility in Elsendorp will not have such requirement.

The facility will allow the embryo to be implanted in a surrogate mother who did not donate the egg, a process known as “high-tech surrogacy” that was previously unavailable to gay couples in the country.

“I think it’s crazy that gay couples, but also women who have medical issues, have to go abroad to fulfil their desire to have children, while all medical and technical expertise and knowledge is in house,” Nij Geertgen director Marc Scheijven was quoted as saying on the programme, which airs on Tuesday (November 13).

Gay couple hug their daughter at the opening of Germany's first gay parenting counseling centre.

Gay couple Kai (L) and Michael Korok and their daughter Jana, 4, attend the opening of Germany’s first gay parent counseling center on March 15, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty)

Scheijven’s remarks echo the opinion of the Dutch Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (NVOG).

“We see every year that dozens of male couples turn to doctors with this request, but until now that is not possible in the Netherlands and men are forced to go abroad,” NVOG director Annemiek Nap told Dutch news outlet  RTL Nieuws.

Nap also told De Monitor: “Gay couples who desire to have children should be able to access IVF treatment in the Netherlands.”

Two other clinics in Zwolle and in Amsterdam have yet to make a decision on the matter.

What does the Dutch law say about gay couples and same-sex parenting?

According to Dutch law, the person that gives birth to the child is the legal parent, even if the child “was conceived using a donor egg.”

The current state of the law, experts say, would have to adjust to better regulate evolving surrogacy practices.

The law changed in 2014 to simplify the process by which the woman in a lesbian relationship who does not give birth to the baby can be recognised as the child’s legal parent.

The change has not affected gay couples, who need to seek a court’s approval before obtaining joint responsibility of a child born through surrogacy.

In the case of adoption, the same-sex couple obtains automatic joint responsibility.

Israeli gay couple disembark plane after being repatriated from Nepal.

Gay couple disembark plane after being repatriated from Nepal on April 27, 2015. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty)

In 2015, a polyamorous gay couple and a lesbian couple agreed to have a child all five of them together.

The birth mother and one of the gay men would be named as the legal parents of the baby, as the Netherlands does not allow for more than two people to be recognised as parents of a child.

IVF treatment for gay couples still a challenge

Dutch gay couples are not the only ones who have so far being forced to seek IVF treatment abroad.

Earlier this year, the Israeli LGBT+ community went on strike after a new surrogacy law ignored the needs of gay couple.

In the UK, the NHS has been struggling to meet demand for IVF treatment from both straight and gay couples, forcing hundreds to go abroad for the procedure, as The Telegraph reported last year.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to allow lesbian couples and single women to access IVF treatment has faced backlash from certain parts of society.