The inability to conceive and carry a pregnancy seems to be on the rise for couples in the Western world, due to the rise in the age at which they seek to conceive and for other known and unknown reasons. But also on the rise is the number of gay couples and single women who wish to conceive, and even though they are not technically infertile, they would like insurance companies to think they are.
A new bill in the Illinois legislature, introduced in February and now standing at 25 sponsors, seeks to wholly redefine what it means to be “infertile.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection defines infertility as “not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex.” But this new law is not about that, as Illinois law already requires that Illinois insurance companies cover fertility services for couples who have attempted to conceive for a year regardless of whether those attempts are through sexual intercourse or other means, or where an individual has been diagnosed with a fertility-impacting medical condition.
Through the Illinois Family Building Act of 1991 and 1997, and a 2010 ruling by the Illinois Department of Insurance, the fertility benefit mandate applies to women who are physiologically unable to conceive and carry a pregnancy regardless of how they attempt to conceive.
The new bill in Illinois, HB 3709, actually has nothing to do with infertility. Instead, it would mandate that all health insurance plans sold in the state pay for fertility-related services for single people and same-sex couples regardless of whether, physiologically, they have any impairment in their fertility at all.
The legislation removes the element of the prior definition that included “the inability to conceive after one year of attempts to produce conception” (as a supplemental component of the definition beyond the traditional requirement of unprotected sex) and replaces it with “a person’s inability to reproduce either as a single individual or with a partner without medical intervention.”
If a specific service has been developed for actually infertile couples, services which the law already defines as “including, but not limited to, in vitro fertilization, uterine embryo lavage, embryo transfer, artificial insemination, gamete intrafallopian tube transfer, zygote intrafallopian tube transfer, and low tubal ovum transfer,” then this law deems it available to singles and gay couples too.
The Chicago Tribune’s coverage of the bill profiles the case of a gay couple contemplating hiring a surrogate. They face high expenses for “everything from compensation for the woman who will carry his baby, to in vitro fertilization and genetic testing” without any payments from insurance.
“If Marcus and his husband were heterosexual, on the other hand, at least $20,000 in medical expenses would be covered by his employer-based health insurance, and potentially $40,000 or $60,000,” the story reads. “…The heterosexual sex requirement effectively disqualifies LGBTQ people and people without partners, according to state Rep. Margaret Croke, D-Chicago, who recently introduced a bill that would extend protection to those groups.”
The article also implies the bill would cover egg-freezing costs for single women. Separately, WCIA from Springfield reports:
The proposal would not require insurance providers to cover the cost of surrogate fees, but would require them to provide some form of coverage for in vitro fertilization and other infertility treatments. Croke says the coverage could help pay for expensive things like ‘sperm selection and your egg donor and ovulation stimulation.’
‘This idea of taking [parenthood] away from someone because of who they love is pretty heart wrenching,’ she said. ‘There are people who want to be parents, and I don’t think that we should be determining who becomes a parent because of financial barriers, or because they are in a same sex relationship, or they’re single.’
No one is “taking parenthood away” from anyone merely by the lack of a state mandate that insurance companies pay for fertility-related services for anyone who wishes to use them. After all, health insurance coverage is meant to remedy medical conditions, to treat diseases, or (in its present-day form) prevent them. It is not meant to cover any service that simply happens to be provided by a medical professional or to be regulated by medical regulators.
No one has a “right” to have covered any particular service that is not curative or preventive even when the general terms and conditions of that insurance policy cover superficially similar services that are medical treatments.
More troubling, though, is the utter indifference on the part of Croke, the journalists, and those cited in the article to the plain meaning of the word “infertility.” For a woman to lack a spouse or partner, but wish to have a child, does not mean that she is infertile. For two men or two women to wish to parent a child to whom they have a partial biological connection does not mean that they are infertile.
We see over and over again a process play out in which the political and cultural left redefines basic terminology, then insists that their definition of the word is the only “true” and universal one, even to the point of enshrining it in law. How many more times will this play out before the rest of us manage to stop it?