A SCOTS clinic which supports couples suffering fertility problems has come under fire after offering the chance to ‘win a baby’.

Edinburgh-based Fertility Focus is giving away a round of IVF treatment in a prize draw to be held at an event later this month. The organisers say they hope treatment, which will be carried out at a clinic in Barcelona, could result in the winner becoming pregnant.

However the prize has attracted fierce criticism, with some opponents suggesting it reduces babies to a commodity to be won with a ‘golden ticket’.

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It plans to give away a round of IVF, worth an estimated £4500, during its ‘Fertility in the 21st Century - Helping You in Your Journey’ event in the capital at the end of this month.

For £8 each entry fee, desperate couples and individuals considering IVF in a bid to have a family, will hear presentations on the power of mindfulness, nutrition and egg donation, before names are entered into a prize draw. The winner will have the chance to travel to a clinic in Barcelona for a round of IVF treatment.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland condemned the prize.

He said: “Offering IVF treatment as a raffle prize is simply the latest degradation of the sanctity and dignity of human life, inherent in the techniques used by the commercial fertility industry.”

He added: “There are already profound ethical questions to be asked about the use of IVF techniques in this country. Many women undergoing fertility treatment already donate some of their eggs in return for subsidised private treatment or, in the case of NHS patients, for an additional cycle of treatment, reimbursing egg donors up to £750 per cycle is allowed.

“We have already commodified the process of creating life and turned it into a marketplace. We oppose paying blood donors or organ donors, but see no conflict in fertility donations becoming a financial transaction.”

Michael Robinson, director of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child Scotland, also criticised the prize draw, claiming it “made a mockery” of the process of childbirth.

“It makes a gimmick of the inherent dignity of every human life, the process of IVF and the heartbreak of people who are infertile,” he added. “Bringing a child into life in the first place is complicated, let alone raising them. It’s not something you should just ‘win’ with some kind of golden ticket.

“It makes a mockery of bringing a child into the world.”

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Event organiser Juliet Le Page, who became one of Scotland’s oldest mums when she delivered her second child at the age of 50 following IVF treatment, defended the prize and said it could be a priceless opportunity for the winner.

“It does seem to be getting some people’s backs up,” she said. “We’ve noticed fliers and posters publicising it are being removed from certain locations. We believe that’s deliberate by people who don’t like it.

“I feel this shows another side of the intolerance which we seem to be breeding in society these days,” she added. “If people aren’t being intolerant towards religion, it’s something else that seems to annoy them.

“It’s another sign of people not being able to just let other people get on with their lives.”

A former physiotherapist, Ms Le Page became a qualified fertility awareness practitioner and consultant after having her two children as the result of IVF treatment. Her second was born the day after her 50th birthday, following treatment at a clinic in Spain.

The event is due to be held on 30 September at Edinburgh’s Royal Scots Club and will include a presentation from Dr. Raul Olivares of Barcelona IVF, the clinic which will carry out the prize winner’s treatment.

One in six couples currently suffers from infertility or sub-fertility. Earlier this year, the Scottish Government announced it would increase the number of IVF cycles available on the NHS for women under 40, from two to three. Older women between 40 and 42, were to receive one round of IVF if they reach certain criteria.

Josephine Quintavalle, founder of Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE), a group focused on ethical dilemmas surrounding human reproduction and assisted conception, also expressed concerns over the prize. She said: “Reducing IVF to something you win with a lucky ticket at a fertility conference is to seriously trivialise the desperation of childlessness.

There are genuine pathological factors associated with reduced fertility and women can naturally be very distressed when dealing with such problems. “But we should address these problems with education and social charters so women can have children when they are naturally most fertile.”