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Fertility rights of same-sex couples

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Infertility is a condition which is defined as a couple struggling to conceive after trying at least 12-months to do so, provided the woman in under 35. While, in the case of those in heterosexual relationships, documented infertility gives way to a couple qualifying for their insurance to cover fertility-related expenses, for same-sex couples and singles, qualifying to receive covered fertility treatments is much less reliable.

Only eight states in the country require their health insurance providers to cover in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures as part of their plans. In most states, especially those where marriage equality acts or domestic partnerships have yet to be adopted, same-sex couples struggle to afford the necessary fertility treatments to start their own families.

In states, like Illinois, that do support domestic partnerships, getting health insurance companies to revise their handling of coverage of certain medical procedures to be more inclusive of the interests of same-sex couples is an uphill battle. One of these procedures, fertility treatments, is one of those hot button issues.

While in some states, like New York, its Financial Services Department just last Wednesday rolled out a policy that required that all health insurance companies in the state provide coverage for fertility procedures irregardless of either sexual orientation or marital status; others lag behind. This hold up has much to do with different states' interpretations of the concept of "fertility".

Most states rely on the definition of infertility established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine to shape their laws as to what medical procedures they require health insurance companies to cover or not. As for the society's definition of infertility, it fails to reference special circumstances associated with different relationship types.

Even if that aspect of the law is able to be shored up, it doesn't take away from the fact that same-sex couples are held to the same burden of proof of their fertility as are heterosexual couples. Although same-sex couples require the intervention of some type of fertility treatment to have children, they are repetitively subjected to artificial insemination before insurance begins paying as opposed to covering them from the start.

If you are involved in a same-sex relationship and you find yourself struggling to receive same-sex or domestic partner benefits afforded to you under Illinois state law, a McHenry, Illinois, family law attorney may be able to provide guidance in your legal matter.

Source:, "Should the definition of infertility be more inclusive?," Mary Bowerman, et. Al., April 22, 2017

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