Friday, June 27, 2008

Should society pay for fertility treatment for poor women? (by Suzie)

       My short answer: No.
       If you're interested in the subject, I encourage you to read this column by Pamela Merritt, and the comments that were posted. There are some fascinating arguments.
       Merritt notes the high cost of infertility treatment, and the limits of insurance coverage. She asks who society deems worthy of motherhood. 
This election year, universal healthcare coverage is a key issue, but universal coverage for infertility treatments has not been part of the discussion even though infertility treatment remains economically out of reach for many who need it. As a reproductive justice issue, the right to choose is clearly being denied those seeking treatment for infertility. But the reproductive rights of low-income and poor people continue to be held hostage to the values of a society that associates money with a person's worthiness to receive medical treatment.
         I’d like to see our society get truly universal health care first. I’d like to make adoption easier and much more affordable. I’d also prefer society address the myriad difficulties for poor children before paying for infertility treatments for poor women.
          In my teen years, my family was poor. I have family members who are poor. If one said she wanted expensive infertility treatments, my reaction would be: What?!? 
          No one should force women to bear children, nor should women be prevented from having children they desire. But does society have an obligation to help women conceive and give birth? If so, is there any limit on how many kids we would pay for? In other words, could a woman keep getting infertility treatments as long as her health held out? Would there be an age cutoff, or could a 50-year-old ask for infertility treatments? If a woman with a fatal disease wanted infertility treatments, should society pay for them? If women have this right, should society also help men who are infertile?
          I've paired this post with the one below, in which I explain I never wanted children. Have my own desires clouded my thinking on this?