We have fought for years, trying to abolish surrogacy in the United States and abroad. It has been a grizzly battle and oftentimes, as in New York, we face frustration and defeat. It doesn’t keep us from doing our work to protect women and children from the greedy hands of #BigFertilty. In December of 2022, new legislation at the federal level was introduced “to prohibit the limitation of access to assisted reproductive technology, and all medically necessary care surrounding such technology”. We are following the progress of this bill, called S.5276 – Right to Build Families Act of 2022, very closely. Since then, in January 2023, HB 1151 and SB 5204 have been introduced in Washington State mandating “health plans to provide coverage for the diagnosis of infertility, treatment for infertility, and standard fertility preservation services.”
Each of these bills have one thing in common, they have dangerously vague language, which sets the stage for all sorts of coverage options when it comes to infertility, including the utilization of surrogacy. We believe this vague language is intentional as well, so that as new high-profit technology advances, anything goes. For example, future forms of genetic testing pave the way for the production of “designer” babies and progress towards artificial wombs opens up the market for “EctoLife”. Those are only two examples, when in reality, the possibility it endless. Of course, Dr. Lori Marshall, medical director at Pacific Northwest Fertility, testified in support of SB 5204. For her and her colleagues, there is a lot of money to be gained if health insurance coverage is mandated to provide IVF, surrogacy, or other assisted reproductive technologies (ART).
Proponents of this bill and others like it, would like to emphasize the financial burden often placed on those struggling with infertility. We can empathize that high-tech baby making comes with a hefty price tag, but these bills do not erase the cost of these (often unsuccessful) technologies, but rather shift them to the taxpayers. HB 1151 reads: “The DOH found that health plans generally did not include coverage for fertility treatments, that out-of-pocket costs for these services are generally expensive, and that the mandated benefit would likely result in increased costs to the state, health carriers, and enrollees, but may decrease out-of- pocket costs for patients…”
We stay encouraged because there are people, like us, who see the pitfalls of providing unlimited ART to those facing infertility. Opposers of the Washington bill have written, “In vitro fertilization commodifies people and reduces them to a lab and technical process. The dignity of all people should be affirmed and all life should be protected.”
In 2023 we gird up our loins for another battle and we intend on educating you all along the way. Will you join us in raising awareness, supporting our work, hosting a home showing of one of our many films addressing assisted reproductive technologies, or perhaps invite us to come and give a talk in your community!
- Kallie Fell, MS, BSN, RN, started her professional career as a scientist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center utilizing a Master of Science degree in Animal Sciences with an emphasis on Reproductive Physiology and Molecular Biology from Purdue University. While assisting in the investigation of endometriosis and pre-term birth, Kallie simultaneously pursued a degree in nursing with hopes of working with women as a perinatal nurse. After meeting Jennifer at a conference, Kallie became interested in the work of the Center for Bioethics and Culture and started volunteering with the organization. It is obvious that Kallie is passionate about women’s health. She continues to work, as she has for the past 6 years, as a perinatal nurse and has worked with the CBC since 2018, first as a volunteer writer, then as our staff Research Associate, and now as the Executive Director. In 2021, Kallie co-directed the CBC’s newest documentary, Trans Mission: What’s the Rush to Reassign Gender? Kallie also hosts the popular podcast Venus Rising and is the Program Director for the Paul Ramsey Institute.