In Quebec, infertility is now a disease
2010 07 22

By Margaret Wente | The Globe And Mail

Demographics and politics go hand in hand. And pandering to the baby lobby is just one of the government’s motives

Is infertility a disease? Is access to free in vitro treatment a human right? If you live in Quebec, the answer is yes to both.

Next month, the Quebec government will start funding in vitro fertilization for people who can’t conceive normally. The infertility lobby is ecstatic. So is TV personality Julie Snyder, mother of two adorable in vitro-conceived kids (and wife of one of the province’s richest men, Pierre Karl Péladeau). She’s the poster mom for making fertility treatment an essential service.


“There are some people who can only afford one treatment, so you cry with them,” she said. “It’s deeply unfair. I promised God that if I had my baby I’d do my best to help others.”

It may, indeed, be deeply unfair that Celine Dion can spend a zillion dollars to get pregnant with high-tech twins and you can’t. Yet, millions of us manage to cope. Many things in life are deeply unfair, and infertility is just one of them. And somehow we survive without the government to help us. Meantime, record numbers of people are embracing childlessness out of choice. It seems that one person’s deep unfairness is another’s blessed liberation.

In Quebec, demographics and politics go hand in hand. And pandering to the baby lobby is just one of the government’s motives. The other motive is to bump up the birth rate. The government hopes that all those extra IVF procedures will add another 2,000 babies a year (mostly francophone). And that’s not all. Now that IVF has been deemed a medically necessary service, the government has decreed it will no longer be available privately. Those who wish to pay for it themselves will have to go out of province.

As a result, doctors predict, the system will soon be overwhelmed. “Medicare can’t cope with many areas of medicine,” said Seang Lin Tan, chief obstetrician at the McGill University Health Centre. “The price we pay for free treatments is waiting lists. It will just be more of a burden on the system if we eliminate private treatments.”

Like $8-a-day daycare – Quebec’s last ingenious scheme to boost the birth rate – this one amounts to a blank cheque. The province will cover a wide range of treatments, including three rounds of IVF at $7,000 to $15,000 a pop, and its program will be the most expansive in the world. Single women and lesbian couples will be eligible for free sperm donations. IVF will be offered to people who are already parents, as well as to older women whose natural fertility has fallen off a cliff. By contrast, all other countries that offer IVF impose strict treatment limits. (Germany pays only half the cost.)

By 2014, the new program is expected to cost nearly $70-million. The Health Minister says it will pay for itself because state regulation of IVF will cut down on the number of implanted embryos and, therefore, on the number of multiple and premature births that cost the system millions. This is now the standard argument used by advocates who want other provinces to cover fertility treatments. But critics point out that ovarian stimulation, not IVF, is the main cause of multiple pregnancies. And as the number of IVF pregnancies soars, the cost of IVF-related problems will soar, too. There’s also no new money in the health-care budget to pay for extra nurses, obstetricians and neonatal units.

Many argue that free infertility treatment is a human right. Some are even arguing the case before the Ontario Human Rights Commission. God help us if they win. The trouble is, free treatment costs a lot of money. The burden of Quebec’s expensive new entitlement program will be borne by all those people who really do have diseases. Quebec’s health-care system is already strained to the max and, by international standards, it’s pretty lousy. What about our deep unfairness to them?

Julie Snyder may have kept her promise to God. But let us pray that other provinces don’t cave in.


Article from: theglobeandmail.com



Related Articles
A new method predicts the success of in vitro fertilization
IVF Babies May be More Prone to Childhood Cancers
British fertility clinic raffling human egg
I’ll Have My Cosmetics with a Side of Infertility, Please
Sir David Attenborough calls for UK baby limit to stop ’frightening’ population growth
Baby to be born free of breast cancer after embryo screening


Latest News from our Front Page

Chess-playing computers may cause the robot apocalypse
2014 04 23
Sore-loser chess programs might be the end of us all... In the movie The Terminator, we heard the human side of the story of Judgment Day, with the machines getting smart and seeing us as a threat. It wasn’t until the sequel that we heard the tale from the machine’s point of view, as it chose to start World War III ...
Archeologists’ findings may prove Rome a century older than thought
2014 04 23
It is already known as the eternal city, and if new archeological findings prove correct Rome may turn out to be even more so than believed until now. Next week, the city will celebrate its official, 2,767th birthday. According to a tradition going back to classic times, the brothers Romulus and Remus founded the city on 21 April in the year ...
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
2014 04 23
A Swedish MP who launched an official government investigation into the existence of chemtrails tells The Local why he thinks Swedes deserve the truth, even if it may leave some conspiracy theorists unsatisfied. "I can’t speak for other MPs, but I’ve had many, many calls over the past eight years about chemtrails. And these questions are not so easy to answer," ...
Mystery of Bizarre Duck-Like Ocean Sound
2014 04 23
If it quacks like a duck... it’s not always a duck. Scientists have reportedly gotten to the bottom of the mysterious ’Bio-Duck’ sound in the Antarctic. Here’s a recording of the strange sound (it’s kind of a stretch to say it sounds like a duck, but who are we to second guess the biologists?). --- Mystery of Bizarre Duck-Like Ocean Sound Solved By Tanya Lewis ...
’Extreme’ Carbon Dioxide Reduction will be a Death Sentence for Humanity & Planet Earth
2014 04 23
If we allow a fraudulent pseudo-environmentalist cult to control every aspect of our lives then our children are doomed to a totalitarian existence which Stalin could only have dreamed of. “The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine ...
More News »