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California Set To Redefine “Infertility” In Bid To Force Insurance Companies To Cover Surrogacy For Gay Couples

Natasha Biase

A new California bill is set to redefine”infertility” in order to force insurance companies to cover certain reproductive health treatments like In vitro fertilization (IVF) for gay couples.

According to Fox News, the California senate passed Bill SB-729 last month, updating the definition of infertility as “a person’s inability to reproduce either as an individual or with their partner without medical intervention.” The legislation, which is now heading to the full Assembly, will require employer-sponsored insurance plans to cover all fertility treatments, including the artificial insemination of surrogate mothers.

The goal of the bill, according to Senator Caroline Menjivar, is to help “LGBTQ+” people achieve “full-lived equality” and prevent them from having to pay more out-of-pocket to start families than heterosexual couples. 

The cost of one IVF cycle in California typically ranges from $8,000 to $13,000 and usually includes “ultrasounds, blood tests, egg retrieval, lab fees, embryo transfer, cryopreservation of viable embryos, and one year of embryo storage fees.”

But the Pacific Fertility Center in Los Angeles explains that figure could run even higher if a surrogate or egg donor is required. The Center says it may cost up to $46,000 to ensure that a couples would “walk home with a new family member, regardless of how many egg retrievals, embryo transfers, and ultrasounds [are] required.”

According to the Free Beacon, opposition to SB-729 had largely come from California business and insurance groups who are concerned that it will raise insurance premiums by hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

News of California lawmakers’ attempt to redefine infertility as a status rather than a medical condition was met with confusion and backlash online, particularly from maternal care and women’s rights advocates.

According to Jennifer Lahl, the founder of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network (CBC), Bill SB-729 “compels insurance providers to provide medical services to people who have zero medical need.” In a tweet she made on the Bill yesterday, she added: “Welcome to California, where our children and women come last.”

Kal Fell, the executive director of the CBC, also took to Twitter to express her disappointment in the Bill. Fell says she believes it is “requiring insurance companies to pay for ‘fertility care’ for people based on preference, not a medical necessity.”

Despite the pushback from women’s rights advocates, gay men’s rights organizations have celebrated the move. A group called Men Having Babies boasted that the bill will ultimately “remove financial barriers” for gay men who wish to purchase access to a surrogate. Other supporters of the legislation have touted it as an overdue step toward “fertility equality” for gay people.

The ethics of the fertility industry have become a widely debated topic in recent years.

In April of 2022, a gay couple in New York state sued the City of New York for what they alleged was “discrimination” against them after they were denied in vitro fertilization and surrogate coverage under the city’s insurance plan for employees.

The class-action suit is still ongoing, but resulted in a slew of backlash from those who said that no one was entitled to a “right” to biological children. Some users on Twitter likened the potential precedent to the Margret Atwood classic The Handmaid’s Tale.

Shortly after news of the lawsuit broke, a gay male couple in California sued a fertility clinic in Pasadena after their surrogate gave birth to a baby girl instead of a baby boy as they had requested.

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Natasha Biase

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