Singles denied fertility treatment despite new law

As of Friday, single women in Sweden have the right to access fertility treatment, but long wait times and a lack of resources at some clinics means many will be denied treatment.

Although the law granting single women the right to state-funded artificial insemination was approved in May 2015 and comes into force today, several county councils and hospitals say they lack the resources and guidelines on how to carry out the procedures and care. As a result, many hospitals are not placing single women on their waiting lists for fertility treatment.

"It's easy to draw up the laws but then how they should be implemented in a practical way is not so easy," Ann Thurin Kjellberg, chief of reproductive medicine at Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska hospital, said. "It's extremely hard for patients if they're first put up on a waiting list and then it turns out that they are not part of the group we can offer treatment to."

In the past, single women wanting children were often forced to take dramatic measures to get pregnant, such as arranging to meet anonymous sperm donors or, more frequently, heading south to Denmark to get the treatment and fund it themselves.

One woman going by the alias Anna said she is still hoping to get pregnant in Sweden even with the current delays. She said: "Obviously, the dream is to avoid going abroad." Anna has wanted a child of her own for a decade now, but is losing patience. "If you change the law you need to see to it that it works in practice," she said.

Before the change on Friday, only women in committed relationships could receive artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization.