Win a Baby Review: ‘IVF Lotto Lady’

October 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

WIN A BABY: Monday 8th October, More4, 10.05pm

In a world of gurning competitions and high heel races (seriously), prizes are up for grabs for the most bizarre/obscure things imaginable. There can’t be many competitions as ethically dubious as a proposed IVF lottery, which would give people the chance ‘win a baby’ or, more specifically, win £25,000 worth of IVF treatment. More4’s documentary Win a Baby set out to uncover whether the ‘baby lotto’ is an altruistic attempt to give disadvantaged people the chance to conceive, or a cynical attempt to exploit vulnerable people for profit.

Private IVF treatment costs thousands of pounds and many people rely on the arbitrary postcode lottery which determines whether they are eligible to receive treatment on the NHS based on geographical location. Would-be fertility flogger Camille Strachan has ploughed £100,000 in to her organisation To Hatch and is planning to launch world’s first IVF lottery in the UK. Camille’s plan is to sell a million lottery tickets at £20 each for a chance to win one cycle of IVF, generating £20m. However the prize is only worth £25,000, which doesn’t seem to add up given the potential windfall from ticket sales, but she insists the scheme is not-for-profit.

Win a Baby documents Camille’s attempts to start up the controversial IVF Lottery over several months with a series of candid interviews and examples of the ethical media shitstorm she becomes engulfed in. As if being dubbed ‘IVF Lotto Lady’ by The Sun wasn’t enough, Camille appears on ITV1’s early morning TV car-crash Daybreak, only to be greeted by an uncharacteristically grouchy Adrian Chiles, who eschews his typical Brummie chumminess to Paxman her over the competition’s million-to-one odds: “…with those odds, you might as well set fire to your ticket, frankly.?

The programme is interspersed with people exasperated in their attempts to get pregnant who wish to enter the lottery. The stories are fairly distressing: we meet a woman who can’t afford private treatment and has been saving up with her husband in order to enter the lottery, for example. The scheme appears to be encouraging emotionally-charged skint couples to piss their money down the drain to generate profit.

Camille obviously doesn’t sit alongside genocide-profiteer Leopold II on the unethical scale, but even so, Win a Baby doesn’t conclusively probe her over the ethical implications of coaxing vulnerable people to gamble on fertility. The programme even ends with the narrator displaying sympathetic admiration towards Camille as the IVF Lottery’s launch faces continued delays.

Win a Baby is essentially a documentary about a hypothetical ethically ambiguous scheme that will probably never come to fruition. It ultimately feels pointless. File under ‘waste of time’.