Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Are Bank Loans for IVF Ethical? January 11, 2011

I thought long and hard before deciding to post on this topic today. To say it’s controversial is an understatement. But it can’t all be pretty all the time, so here goes:


The Bioethics Center, part of New Zealand’s University of Otago, recently posed this ethical question: “Are banks wrongfully exploiting the childless by offering and advertising loans for IVF?”


Apparently, ASB bank in New Zealand offers (and makes no bones about advertising) loans to pay for IVF treatments. They have produced a very emotional and persuasive commercial to promote their product. You can watch it on YouTube, but I’m warning you to do so at your own risk. This is direct-to-the-gut advertising at its best.


I have very mixed feelings about this subject. On the one hand, I don’t believe that IVF and other fertility treatments should only be available to the wealthy (and at anywhere from $10,000 – $20,000 a round, it’s not something that’s accessible to everyone.)


On the other hand, commercials like this fuel the notion that there’s always something else to try, always one more hope left, when sometimes, it’s just time to stop. It targets people when they are at their most vulnerable. In the banking world, they call that a predatory loan.


So the question I’m posing to you is this: is it ethical for a bank to offer and advertise loans to pay for IVF?


I’ll look forward to hearing your opinions.



9 Responses to “Are Bank Loans for IVF Ethical?”

  1. That was amazingly upsetting indeed. I have always felt that IVF treatments had a sense of “snake oil” to them, some people find them helpful while many others find themselves in the same place they started.
    As a childless-not-by-choice couple, we are always feeling fed on by the medical industry, so in many ways it is not surprising that the banking industry would do the same. I don’t think ethics even really comes into play, instead it is simply business as usual. Sad but horribly true.

  2. Ugh…on the ad. Makes it seem so easy if only you have enough money. That’s definitely not always the case. I wouldn’t call this predatory lending. Actually, I don’t believe there is such a thing no matter the level of emotional appeal. Nobody puts a gun to your head and makes you take out a loan. In the end everyone is responsible for their own choices.

    As far as the ad technique it’s well done and definitely appeals to the emotions. It does its job even if it irks me to no end.

  3. Julie Says:

    I don’t know. Part of me thinks that if someone wants to pursue IVF and wants to borrow money to do so, knowing that a bank loan is possible might be a good thing. Another part thinks that this advertisement is along the same lines of a fertility clinic advertising, but again, it’s a way for consumers to know what is available. Another part thinks it’s mean and cruel to imply that IVF is the cure-all and always successful. How about a commercial showing them borrowing money for several IVF’s and all of them failing? And then having to make a monthly payment (along with your other monthly reminder) for something that didn’t work. This is the very reason that we only tried IVF once and that we saved up money to pay for everything beforehand. I didn’t want to increase our debt and possibly face an additional monthly reminder that it didn’t work.

    I’m trying to think of any other advertising that is directed only at emotionally fragile people. I’m coming up with nothing. And that makes me think that this type of advertising is unethical.

    • Julie Says:

      I also think it’s along the same lines of the doctor telling me in the same phone call that he was telling me that the pregnancy hormone had reached zero (a few days after finding out that the numbers were dropping instead of increasing) to give them a call when my period came in order to get started on the next round of IVF. Like it was just assumed that we would never stop until we achieved a viable pregnancy. No asking if we wanted to continue; just assuming that we did. Again, preying on the emotionally fragile.

      • lmanterfield Says:

        This is a whole other conversation. There seems to be a huge gap in training at fertility clinics with respect to the emotional toll on patients. There is seldom any kind of counseling or regard for the fact that the first day of your period might not be the day you’re ready to think positive and get back on the train.

  4. Mali Says:

    I was aware of this (living in NZ). It does prey on the emotionally fragile, it does suggest that if you try IVF it will work, I don’t know how they afford a new car if they had to borrow money for IVF (oh wait, borrow even more from the bank), and it isn’t an an accurate portrayal of the situation, as
    a) women under 40 here get two free goes on IVF anyway, and
    b) clinics here are strictly regulated and it would be very rare for a woman to have more than one or two embryos implanted.

    However, it does bring into the mainstream the sadness that infertility can bring very clearly. And as the most annoying ad I know is about how awful stretch marks are (the voice over makes it sound as if it is major tragedy, ie someone has died ), it is nice to see a reflection of what a real sadness might be.

    I’m obviously very much in two minds about this. I have to say I haven’t seen the ad on TV, and so I wonder if it was pulled. I’ll try and find out.

  5. Aside from this add breaking my heart, as I’ve just finished a round of IVF myself, I think it is unethical. Banks advertising for IVF? It immediately makes me question what ties this bank has to any major IVF clinics in NZ? Is that too cynical?

  6. infocyde Says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with it per se, as long as you qualify for the loan, know the risk of failure, and have the means to pay the loan back. But it would not be a bad idea for some additional regulation here because often couples are in emotional states where they might be will to risk more than say for a car loan.

  7. Mechelle B Says:

    I have seen the two advertisements and I do not believe this is unethical. But I do think it’s a clever marketing tool used by ASB.

    Banks offer a service they are a business that’s what they do.

    What would be unethical to me? A finance company (bank) advertising financial loans to encourage women to have a breast enlargement or liposuction to improve their looks. That would be unethical in my eyes.

    It has been a long journey for us, this road of infertility. My fallopian tubes are both blocked by polyps, so without IVF treatment I cannot conceive naturally.
    It’s my choice how I want to deal with this situation. I could continue sitting on a lengthy public waiting list that can be between 13-18 months or take a gamble with my own savings or loan money and try with private treatment.

    My AMH results have come back low for my age, so time in not on my side.

    At the end of the day the decision is completely up to my husband and I. We are responsible for our own actions. Yesterday I called several banks to see what rates they offered for a personal Loan and ASB personal loan rates were the 3rd highest out of four banks for a loan taken over 5 years.

    In Australia the federal government subsidises IVF treatments including rebates with Medicare. I believe our Health System has let us down not our banks.

    I do not view myself as “emotionally fragile”
    I choose to be in control of my emotions. I choose how I feel every day of my life.

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