The Irish Government is today considering the introduction of State funding for IVF treatment.

The Cabinet is due to consider the introduction of laws for the regulation of Assisted Human Reproduction, which includes IVF.

The Irish Times reports that Health Minister Simon Harris will ask Cabinet to approve the drafting of a bill to allow couples who could not otherwise afford AHR to access the service.

One-in-six Irish couples struggle with fertility but IVF treatments are currently only available privately through clinics. The funding is due to commence from 2019.

The government is also expected to announce today the extension of maternity leave for mothers whose babies are born prematurely, according to the Irish Examiner.

Each year over 4,500 pre-term babies are born in Ireland. At present, women are entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave with 16 weeks additional unpaid maternity leave, which comes into effect on the date of the birth of the child.

Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty will seek to extend this payment and add on to the 26 weeks of leave from the time a baby is born prematurely. The changes are expected to be introduced in next week’s budget.