Brussels (EFE).- The European platform that represents the associations of patients with infertility, Fertility Europe, today demanded equal access to fertilization treatments throughout the European Union, a measure that would serve to alleviate the demographic decline of the bloc, which will lose 27 million inhabitants by 2100.
“Ensuring equal access to safe and efficient fertility treatments must be seen as a long-term investment,” said Executive Director of the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF), Neil Datta.
EPF and Fertility Europe presented this Tuesday at the European Parliament facilities a document that analyzes a problem that affects one in six couples in Europe, and which has medical, demographic and economic consequences.
“Removing both financial and legal barriers to access these treatments would positively affect the demography of the country and the economy in general,” reasons Datta.
The EU has a fertility rate of 1.5 children per woman, according to Eurostat data from 2021, compared to the ratio of 2.1 that is considered the replacement rate.
Projections show that the population of the European Union will decrease by 27.3 million people between 2022 and 2100, a drop of 6% compared to the current 450 million inhabitants.
The “white paper”, entitled “The imperative of equitable access to fertility treatments in Europe”, emphasizes that the decrease in the population will generate an inverted pyramid that will double the dependency rate of the elderly in young people, which will go from 33% in 2022 to 57.1% in 2100.
“It will have a great impact on society, the economy, tax revenues and available labor,” adds the analysis, which proposes “financially helping people with infertility in their efforts to become parents” and considering it as an investment .
The report also delves into other ways in which involuntary childlessness negatively impacts those who are directly affected and society as a whole.
“It can be a significant source of stress and emotional distress for those affected and can have a detrimental impact on their relationships, mental health and general well-being,” it says.
In more than 80% of cases, those affected experience adverse reactions such as “shock, sadness, anger and frustration, loss of self-esteem and self-confidence, and a general loss of sense of control,” they indicate.
Some of those affected suffer problems that can lead to “anxiety, depression or even suicidal thoughts and attempts” or to abandon the labor market.
Citizen access to fertility treatments
The report includes an “atlas” that ranks 43 countries on the continent and nearby states according to citizens’ access to fertility treatments, a list that places Belgium in first place, followed by Israel and the Netherlands, and last. Albania, preceded by Armenia and Poland.
Spain appears in 25th place, in the second block of countries, just behind Ireland, Denmark and Greece and ahead of Malta, Serbia and Slovenia.
The document lists the different types of existing treatments, such as intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization and its specialty of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, gamete or embryo donation, and surrogacy.
Of this last method, more controversial, the report says that it is “one of the least available and worst regulated treatments in Europe”, where “only a handful of countries” offer that option and in a “mainly commercial” way.
These States have become “the last resort for prospective parents despite finding ethical reservations or risking legal barriers to bring their babies back to their countries of origin or obtain citizenship for them,” says the document.
Regarding surrogacy in particular, the authors call for “comprehensive regulations to protect surrogate mothers, future fathers and children born through surrogacy from possible exploitation or coercion, as well as to guarantee their rights.”
And with a general perspective, the drafters of the document recommend that legal access to fertility treatments be guaranteed without any discrimination, oblige all medical centers to offer them and that they be financed with “sufficient funds” so that those affected have “a reasonable possibility of having children.
It also advocates offering psychological support “before, during and after” treatment, improving legal frameworks so that donor-conceived children can obtain information about their genetic origins, including fertility as part of sexual education in secondary schools, among others.