Expect more clashes over IVF: health expert

Tensions between Catholic-operated health services and IVF fertility clinics are likely to increase, says a leading reproductive health expert, but Catholic Health Australia has played down the threat to IVF services from Catholic health sector growth.

Professor Robert Norman, director of the Research Centre for Reproductive Health, says the problems experienced by the Canberra Fertility Centre at the John James Hospital owned by Little Company of Mary Health are likely to be repeated across the country, the Australian reports.

Professor Norman, who is also professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Adelaide, said he thought the tensions between Catholic health services and fertility clinics was "going to be an ongoing problem".

"I think IVF units are going to increase in number enormously," he told the Australian.

"I think it's going to create more and more problems if Catholics are going to take that view (that IVF procedures are not acceptable)."

Demand for IVF services has been soaring in Australia for several years, driven by a trend for women to delay starting families, improved success rates, and the high profit margins for IVF clinics, the Australian reports.

In 1995, there were 3000 IVF pregnancies in Australia, while in 2004 that had rocketed to 8800 pregnancies.

However, according to Francis Sullivan, CEO of Catholic Health Australia, the Catholic sector has also grown by about 50 per cent over the past 13 years. There are now 74 Catholic-operated hospitals, up from 56 in 1993.

"I don't believe in any way that the presence of Catholic hospitals or the expansion of that sector will necessarily put at risk IVF service provision, or even the growth of that service provision," Mr Sullivan told the Australian.

"If individuals are seeking IVF services in the private sector, the services will evolve, providers will evolve and the need will be met," he said.

More IVF clinic clashes forecast (The Australian, 10/1/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Research Centre for Reproductive Health - Professor Robert Norman
Catholic Health Australia
Research Centre for Reproductive Health
Calvary John James Hospital

Canberra Catholic hospital under new attack over IVF (CathNews, 9/1/07)
Canberra Calvary courts controversy over hospital purchase (CathNews, 29/12/06)

10 Jan 2007

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