LONDON, July 14, 2011 ( – For £20 Brits can buy a chance to win a baby in a lottery sponsored by a fertility charity, a move that has been decried by ethicists as just more evidence that children have been reduced to commodities by the artificial reproduction industry.

The charity To Hatch, a group that offers fertility advice, has been granted a license by the Gambling Commission to run the IVF lottery that will award monthly prizes of £25,000 worth of IVF or other fertility treatments to winners.

The contest is open to anyone – married, single, homosexual or elderly. Winners will also be put up in a luxury hotel for the duration of the treatment and will be driven there in a chauffeur-driven limo. Among the services on offer are donor ova, reproductive surgery and surrogacy.

“This lottery is playing on the desperation of women,” said Anthony McCarthy, education and publications manager of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC),

The whole concept of an IVF lottery, he said, is “disrespectful both of human beings, and the appropriate way of bringing about human beings, which should be through acts of unifying love.

“Options for parenthood which include the destruction of human beings and the bringing about of human subjects via a technical production process are not compatible with the idea of accepting a child unconditionally as a gift. The lottery idea further debases that acceptance.”

The scheme is the brainchild of To Hatch’s founder Camille Strachan, who said that winners will receive “tailor-made” services to suit their particular needs. She said the idea is a response to what she argues is the underfunding of IVF by the National Health Service, leaving thousands of couples unable to afford the fertility procedures that run about £5000 per attempt.

“We hope the To Hatch Lottery can ease the burden on the NHS and reduce the stress slightly on some of those who are struggling,” Strachan said.

The British Fertility Society issued a statement saying it is “very troubled” by the IVF lottery.

“Although access to effective fertility treatment on the NHS remains patchy, and expensive for those who take the private route, we cannot condone this kind of activity,” said Alison McTavish, secretary of the BFS. “A competition like this, where only the lucky few will be given the chance to start a family, mirrors the ‘postcode lottery’ of IVF provision on the NHS and is equally unfair.”

Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE), said that the scheme “demeans the whole nature of human reproduction.”

In a statement, Quintavalle said, “Turning the process of reproduction into a buy-your-ticket lottery, is absolutely unacceptable and quite possibly breaks European Law on the commercialisation of human tissue.”

Most current artificial procreation techniques have been condemned by pro-life observers. Part and parcel of the process of IVF is the creation of larger numbers of human embryos than can be implanted in the mother’s womb. In some countries, including the UK and Canada, it is legal for parents to “donate” their “spare” embryonic children for medical experimentation or to keep them frozen indefinitely.

Overall, success rates for artificial reproduction are not high and doctors are increasingly warning women, particularly those over 35, not to hold out too high hopes.

A 2006/07 report by the government’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority analysed treatment and success data based on treatment carried out between 1 Apr 2003 and 31 Mar 2004. For IVF treatment using “fresh eggs,” the report showed success rates of only 28.2 percent for women under 35. For women aged 35-37, the rate was 23.6 percent and 18.3 percent for women aged 38-39. Women age 40-42 conceived only 10.6 per cent of the time.