Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vitro fertilisation not for women?

This is an hot issue; everyone in the Netherlands is entitled to in vitro fertilisation. However, in practice, IVF legislation is complicated and discriminates against lesbian couples. The Dutch gay rights organisation COC and the Equal Treatment Commission want the law changed.
Last month, Leiden University's Medical Centre refused to give IVF treatment to a lesbian couple. One of the women told a local radio station: “When we responded that this was pure discrimination, the doctor answered ‘Yes, that’s right, but it is hospital policy. We cannot do anything for you’.''
28-year-old Senaida and her girlfriend 23-year-old Alida were told that they cannot have IVF treatment because they are lesbians. If one of them had gone to the hospital with a sperm donor and pretended to be heterosexual, there would have been no problem, the doctor told them.

Sperm bank

The "Safety and Quality of Bodily Material Law", which came into effect in 2003, differentiates between sperm from a spouse or partner and sperm from a ‘known donor’. In heterosexual couples, the man does not need to have his sperm tested for diseases. But lesbian couples who have to use a sperm donor must have the sperm tested at a sperm bank. This also applies to single women and heterosexual couples when the man is infertile.
The hospital in Leiden does not have a sperm bank, so the women were turned away. The hospital could seek cooperation with a sperm bank, but has not done so. Other hospitals do generally use sperm banks or have their own testing facilities.
Senaida and Alida turned to the Equal Treatment Commission and submitted a complaint. Barbara Bos, legal advisor for the commission, has declined to comment on this case. However, she did comment on a complaint submitted by a lesbian couple in 2009; in that case the commission ruled that the hospital could hardly be criticised for adhering to IVF legislation. It is just that the law is unfavourable to lesbian couples.
“In the earlier case, we established that the legislation makes it more difficult for lesbian couples to get IVF treatment. We think that when the legislation was drawn up, no-one realised what the practical consequences would be.”
Philip Tijsma of COC thinks the women were right to turn to the Equal Treatment Commission. “After all, the doctors told them explicitly that they would not treat them ‘because they are lesbian’.” Mr Tijsma thinks the hospital should put more effort into seeking the services of a sperm bank.

But it is the law itself which discriminates: “It makes it more difficult for lesbian couples to have IVF treatment, because donor sperm has to be tested. This should be changed: get rid of the test.”
Mr Tijsma thinks there is no need to differentiate: “Test tube fertilisation comes at the end of a long process. There is always a relationship of trust with the donor, which means a test is not necessary. If there is something wrong with the sperm, this will come to light anyway.” After all, men in a heterosexual couples can have affairs and become infected with a sexually transmitted disease. So the principle that their sperm does not need to be tested is wrong.”
The Equal Treatment Commission and COC want Health Minister Edith Schippers to change the law so that it does not discriminate. Questions have been asked in parliament, but so far the minister has not responded.
Meanwhile Senaida and Alida are considering getting IVF treatment at a different hospital. But that will not be easy as the waiting lists are long. And since men have not been allowed to donate sperm anonymously, there are fewer donors.
And to be honest, I don't know if its healthy to have two mothers and an unknown father. I really don't know.

Arash's World: Space-Continuum, Time Travel and the Illusion of Free Will

Arash's World: Space-Continuum, Time Travel and the Illusion of Free Will

Day Opening - December 7

the beauty of the moment