An Edinburgh based team of fertility experts is facing criticism after offering couples the chance to win free IVF treatment in a competition.
Edinburgh Fertility Focus, an alternative therapies centre, has collaborated with an IVF clinic in Barcelona to offer treatment worth up to £5,500 a time.
The competition is advertised to take place at a Fertility Focus conference on 6 September.
However, the idea of offering IVF treatment as a prize has been criticised by ethical groups.
Josephine Quintavalle, founder of the pressure group Comment On Reproductive Ethics, said: “Offering lottery tickets to win a baby, like winning a car, trivialises the issue of assisted reproduction”.
She continued: “This move is clearly publicity for the clinic and we feel there must be an element of exploitation of people who can’t afford treatment.”
The UK’s watchdog for fertility, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) also questioned the move.
A spokesman for the watchdog said that “HFEA has real concerns about the idea of IVF treatment being offered as a winning prize”.
He added that as the fertility treatment offered was in Spain, it is “important to remember that different safety and legal rules will apply”.
The winners of the competition will be offered a choice between one free cycle of IVF or a free egg from an anonymous donor.
They will be announced at the conference which will include a talk by the Director of Barcelona IVF, Dr Raul Olivares and his team.
Dr Olivares explained that his talk aims to inform people “about coming to Spain to get treatment”.
Back in 2012, a Kent fertility clinic also gave couples the chance to win money off IVF treatment as part of its anniversary celebrations.
At the time, former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe criticised the move saying: “The idea it can be offered as a prize as if it were a cake at a WI stall is just appalling.”