ORA big advantage of homosexuality? Built-in birth control. A big downside to homosexuality? Built-in birth control. You can’t just casually start trying to have a child when you’re in a same-sex relationship, you have to meticulously plan for parenthood. Instead of going off the pill, start taking them.
You also start buying sperm. (Look for the price of sperm if you want a surprise – it’s crazier than bitcoin.) And start booking medical visits. And get blood work done. And ultrasounds. And trigger shots. And you go to the hospital and medicalized magical babies happen. And then you wait two weeks. And then you have your period and you have to do it all over again.
My partner and I spent much of 2020 involved in variants of the above. Finally, after four GUI (intrauterine insemination) procedures and around $20,000 in bills, she became pregnant. (Hooray!) I won’t get into the technicalities of GUI, but it is less invasive and expensive than IVF (in vitro fertilization); the flip side is that it is not as effective. We may have shell out a small fortune, but in the end, we were lucky: getting pregnant could have taken us a lot longer and cost a lot more. Our health insurance did not cover IVF – if we had to go down that path, I’m not sure how long we could have kept trying. Meanwhile, some of our straight friends who underwent IVF had insurance that covered everything. Which, while great for them, felt somewhat arbitrary and unfair.
To be clear: I don’t think having children is a human right. I don’t think every lesbian couple should get a free baby, courtesy of the state. But I also don’t think that fertility treatments should be something only the lucky or the burdened have access to. Which, at least in England and the United States, is how the system currently works. In England, getting fertility treatments on the NHS is a postcode lottery. (Scotland offers the “gold standard” of three NHS-funded IVF cycles; Wales offers two cycles. In England, it ranges from three to none.) In the US, fertility coverage depends on your health insurance. Which, in turn, depends on the size of your employer and the laws on infertility insurance coverage in your state. Not to mention your sexuality – you have to go through a lot more hurdles to cover yourself when you’re a same-sex couple.
But maybe things are slowly changing: I was thrilled to see England’s first non-profit IVF clinic open in London this year. Address inequalities in IVF provision by offering treatment at cost; Nor will it offer all the expensive (and often ineffective) add-ons that private clinics offer. I mean, did you know that EmbryoGlue is a thing? Or that you can pay more for “assisted hatching”? The industry is so ridiculous that it amazes me that you can’t order satellite TV to relax your embryo while you await implantation.
The amount of judgment that can still be attributed to fertility is also ridiculous. “Why did you wait so long to start trying?” “Maybe he should have focused on finding a partner rather than his career.” “Why don’t you ‘just’ adopt?” ( There is nothing simple about adopting). “Are you sure you should have children when you are not married to a man?” Seriously, if I had a penny for every unsolicited opinion I’ve ever heard about my ovaries, I could buy the world a round of IVF. We need to expand access to fertility treatments, but we also desperately need to expand the conversation about fertility.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism